Life after Marek's with New and Old Flock???

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by LilRedRoo, Oct 19, 2013.

  1. LilRedRoo

    LilRedRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Melinda and I were new to backyard homesteading and started off with an unvaccinated flock. That turned out poorly for us, but we've learned a LOT. Moving forward, I have the following situation and question.

    We have 17 survivors of our Marek's outbreak. Of these we are worried about 4 who are still 19 weeks old. But from what I've read many of our 40+ week birds (10 months old) may make it without symptom. Also from what I've read the recommendation seems to be to nix the whole flock and start over from scratch with new vaccinated chicks.

    With vaccinated chicks, my thought is that once vaccinated and somewhere in the 5-6 week range they should be as Marek's resistant as they're going to be. So assuming I have a backyard coop that will hold a new batch of chicks for that long, what would be the danger in putting them in the front coop with the remainder of the original flock?

    We've culled most of the original birds and don't have a problem taking the rest for fowl meat, but with the amount of space we have it seems inefficient since the others are laying so well right now. Any advice is appreciated...

    Darren and Melinda
     
  2. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    I've replied to you here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/741957/not-an-emergency-mareks-in-the-flock/1310

    But I also wanted to address the issue of culling the rest of your flock. You may, of course, do this if you'd like but it is my opinion that there is no point unless you want to process them for meat. If you have confirmed Marek's disease in your flock, you can assume that the virus is now on your property and it can live for years in the soil and any surface that chicken dander has floated to. To this end, culling your current birds and then introducing vaccinated chicks would have the same outcome as they would be exposed to the virus anyhow. Resistance to the virus is resistance, no matter if the chicken developed it via vaccine or via natural immunity. All the vaccine does is encourage the chick's body to build a resistance so that if it gets later exposed it can build immunity. The vaccine is not a cure nor is it even a guaranteed immunity. Think of it as an encouragement to the baby chick's undeveloped immune system to build a resistance to the virus.

    Your remaining exposed but unvaccinated birds may build resistance or may not. It's generally about a 50% chance in any given bird depending on the strain you have. A healthy, stress-free bird has a better chance. Some breeds seem more susceptible than others. Your remaining birds may be fine or you may see symptoms in them from time to time... it's very hard to guess.
    The good news is that the fatal visceral form usually shows up within weeks of exposure if it is going to go that way, and generally chickens that live past this point won't get the lympomatic tumors. They may get the other symptoms though. Again, there are a lot of variables at play and some of this disease involves educated guesses.

    I hope this helps you with your decisions!
     
  3. LilRedRoo

    LilRedRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much for the reply! In that case I'll let the rest stay and see how it goes. The girls are still laying really well, so I am taking that as a good sign. And the rooster (Rhode Island Red whose name I borrowed for this account) is hopefully going to sire some chicks one of these days once we get the hang of this. It crushed us to have to take out our White Leghorn; he was the most robust, yet peaceful leghorn we'd ever seen and really wanted him as a flock "bull." Maybe one of these days I'll have some laying hens that are naturally resistant to everything on our property...baby steps...
     
  4. LilRedRoo

    LilRedRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I posted somewhere that I was going to share some pics of Marek's symptoms during amateur gross necropsy, but can't remember where, so here they are...the noted issues are not necessarily in this order, but in general, you can see tremendous amounts of yellow fat deposits following liver failure, enlarged spleen and gall compared to proventriculus, you may or may not see the tumor near the ovaries, a heart has had all of the fat deposits used up, et cetera...
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  5. realsis

    realsis Crazy for Silkies

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    One thing I don't think was mentioned was if you are adding the vaccinated chicks those chicks must have a ample amount of time with the vaccine in their bodies to produce antibodies and immunity BEFORE exposure to the land or birds. I read that amount of time is 14 days some say even longer is better. So if you get your vaccinated birds or vaccinate yourself please remember they will NOT be protected UNTIL the antibodies immunity has had time to establish in their body. Many people think after the vaccination they can place the birds on to the land but this would be defeating your whole purpose of the vaccine unless ample time is given to the chicks to develop antibodies immunity BEFORE they are allowed on to the land or around birds. If time is not given for the antibodies then the chicks will still be able to catch the disease before they had time to develop a immunity. I hope this helps you. So make sure to keep the chicks from exposure and away from the land until they have had time for proper immunities and antibodies to be produced within their bodies. This is very important. I wish you the best and hope this information helps you. Good luck and God Bless.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. LilRedRoo

    LilRedRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, exposure to the property is something I can't control since I don't think chickens in a vacuum system in the house would be feasible; we live where we live, and with the number of CAFO poultry operations in this county everything is in the air, all of the time, regardless of the wind direction. When those exhaust fans kick on (which is most of the time), chicken "everything" is in the air. We don't always get the pleasure of smelling it since we are at least some distance from most of them, but that doesn't mean it's not floating around.

    For the vaccinated chicks, we have a seperate coop (200+ yards from the font coop) where they are housed for the first 28 days at which point it's make-it-or-break-it, and they are introduced to the main coop up the hill. Only time will tell, but so far so good. Of our original set we have some who are now 49 weeks, and were just as exposed as the others, and they all went through some stressors early on. They all lay dependably, so these are our start to future generations that we'll see about reagarding a potential for a "Bremond-Ready" Flock.
     
  7. LilRedRoo

    LilRedRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just an update; the hens we have are out of the woods, so to speak and are all healthy. The only losses we've had were from a hawk...grrrrrrrrrrrrr...but disease has not reared it's head since the original posting. Of our vaccinated chicks, who are now established pullets in the main coop, we lost 1 as a day old chick and 2 to predation. Of the pullets who are now hens, we've lost one to predation, and of the original flock of hens we've lost 1 to predation. The hawk, with some encouragement, has decided not to come back anymore. A Maran hen of ours just went broody (started a post in the appropriate forum) so we are using the opportunity to hatch out a few eggs from the original unvaccinated flock to see how they do. Our goal is to eventually have a flock, even if they are all "mutts" that lays well and is acclimated/resistant for our particular area (meaning our homestead).

    We have 2 chicks from a previous 3-chick test hatch (1 of them died from, you guessed it...hawk predation); they hatched October 4th and are still doing great. Their father was a bantam buff brahma, and the hen is a leghorn. Hens are still alive and well (and crazy); the father gave us a nice soup when he was next on the list, but was healthy when we harvested him.

    Thus far, there IS life after Marek's with the flock, without having to start from ground zero.
     
  8. Taebird

    Taebird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm sorry to hear about your Marek's outbreak! We are having the same issue here... I believe ours started around the same time, this past Thanksgiving...
    Did you order vaccinated chicks to add to your flock or hatch and vaccinate?

    Our flock is now down to 4 hens and 1 roo. I'd like to incubate some chicks- and read that Marek's isn't passed through the egg, BUT wouldn't there be some chance that chicks would be exposed to virus that may be present on outside of the egg shell...
     
  9. LilRedRoo

    LilRedRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We ordered vaccinated chicks and established them in a coop in the backyard for 4 weeks before introducing them to the main flock. The Marek strains can vary from one place to another, so it's not a sure bet, but so far we are not having problems with them at 14 weeks.

    Of your remaining hens and rooster, my bet would be that they were just as exposed to the Marek's strain in your area that the others were exposed to. In that case, you have at least SOME potential for resistance in your flock. If they are still healthy and laying then I'd raise their chicks (as many as I could) and see how they fare. The ones that make it are either resistant, or at least are have the genetics to fight on. That seems like it'd be a good first step into having a flock that is going to make it in your specific area. This is pretty much what we're doing with our original flock. They were never vacinnated as chicks (I had no idea about all of that at the time), and they were in direct contact with every bird we lost, so I am hedging that there is some solid exposure, and since the hens are all still healthy and laying well any effect was minimal. So we are hopeing that their genetics will pass on to the offspring and yeild us a "Bremond-Ready Flock" of chicks.
     

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