Marek's and new chicks?


In the Brooder
9 Years
Jun 28, 2010
Hello all~
So I am a relatively new chicken owner. I got my first two babies in May and have gotten six since then. Somewhere along the way, one of the chicks picked up Marek's. It has been a frustrating, sad, and disheartening experience since then. Four have died, and I have four left. I love them like I love my cats, and so , I can't put them down.

I know I can't put new chickens with those chickens due to the contagiousness of the Marek's. I am wondering if I can put another small flock (which I would get this winter/spring) in another part of my yard. I live on an acre. The two groups would never interact. I want more chickens for egg purposes and I love chickens...and want to see more happy, healthy chickens! I had been hoping to give eggs to family members who might otherwise buy them from Kwik Trip or Walmart.

What do you think? Can I build another small flock on the same property as my SUPER SURVIVOR chickens?
Well, you can add in vaccinated pullets to your existing flock and they should be ok. It takes a week or so for vaccinated chicks to build up some immunity to the virus. During that time they would be more susceptible to the virus.

You won't be able to separate the flocks on your property. The virus is spread in the dander of the birds and gets into everything. Your property will will be full of it, it will be carried around by the air, your clothes, and your shoes and is very persistent in the environment. Even if you were to get rid of your flock and start over the virus will hang around for months.

My suggestion? Don't worry too much about it. The virus is fairly prevalent in the environment anyway and it's typical for it to be present in most flocks even if the birds don't come down with the symptoms. It's everywhere. Even in vaccinated flocks. Buy some vaccinated chicks or buy some vaccinated pullets. Add to your flock. You may lose some more and you may not. It's just something you're going to have to deal with. Don't feel that your property is contaminated beyond use. As I said, the virus is everywhere anyways.

For the backyard flocks we've had in the past, we had always bought vaccinated chicks and I've seen birds go down in those flocks due to Marek's. Currently we have an organic farm with 2500 layer hens. In last year's flock I saw five or six birds contract it. This year is another story. 1500 of the hens weren't properly vaccinated at the hatchery. The other 1000 came from a different hatchery and were vaccinated properly. The birds are about 30 weeks old now and we've seen about twenty-five go down due to Marek's. The symptoms are usually brought on by the stress of starting to lay when they are around 18 weeks old. Once we got past the the first few weeks of laying, the mortality rate dropped. The remaining 99% of the birds appear to be doing well, my fingers crossed...
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We lost all 8 of our chicks to Mareks this summer - and I totally understand just how sad you must feel. It is a helpless feeling not being able to do anything for them. However - before we knew we had Mareks - we introduced 3 additional chicks to our flock with our broody hen. The hen died when they were 7 days old (dog attack), and we moved them inside to care for them. They were vaccinated at 1 day old - and I'm happy to say that all 3 are doing very well. 20 weeks old as of yesterday - I know we are not out of the woods yet - but they are big, robust, and active. Very different from our other babes. So don't be afraid to introduce more chicks to your flock. Make certain that the are vaccinated - and keep them indoors for at least 2 weeks to be sure that the vaccine has time to develop. Good luck!
What are the symptoms of Mareks Disease?.. I kept the baby birds inside for over two weeks and they were vaccinated for Marecks, sent them to my daughters home, and baby birds that were not vaccinated were added to the flock along with putting them all with the older birds, why are the vaccinated birds dying?? along with the young ones that were not vaccinated??they have lethargy, weakness, and inactivity....then death...
Marek's can manifest in many different ways - hence the confusion. What we saw was paralysis in the leg/feet - and one chicken could not hold her head up. Two of our chicks lasted for several weeks with these symptoms - it finally got to a point where we had to put them down. They are the two we had autopsied for confirmation of Mareks. The rest died more quickly - Again - paralysis of the leg and/or noticing a pronounced wing drop. I don't know why birds that were vaccinated and isolated would be dying of Mareks. There are so many diseases - you may have something else going on in your flock. An autopsy is the only way to confirm. We are lucky to have a local vet that loves chickens - plus a poultry extension office not too far away. It wasn't cheap - but it was good to know that we were not doing something environmentally that was causing our birds to die.

Good luck

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