Does this sound like this could work?

  • Yes

    Votes: 1 100.0%
  • No

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Maybe?

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    1

diamondsilkies

Songster
Oct 23, 2017
713
1,192
181
Southern Arizona
(I really wasn't sure what forum to post this under, so if you see a better place for it, please let me know!)

Over the summer, I had an outbreak of Marek's and lost quite a few birds, mostly young silkie pullets. All the chickens I have now lived through it and showed no symptoms of it at any time. I have given my coop several big cleanings, and everyone seems very healthy. However, I am guessing that there is still some trace of it in my coop, and I don't really want to risk getting any more birds (especially silkies) that haven't been vaccinated against the disease.

In the spring, I am planning on buying some more silkies, as I only have four right now. However, I don't really want to spend hundreds of dollars on show quality chickens only to have them die several months later, much less put more birds through that. But many of the big breeders that I am looking at don't vaccinate their birds, which makes sense, since it comes in huge doses and can't really be preserved. My question is this: could I buy some silkies (un-vaccinated), keep them very far away from my birds and sanitize anything that goes between the two enclosures, and vaccinate the new ones myself?

I know I would have to keep them separate for at least two weeks after the vaccination, and practice some extreme bio security in those two weeks. I would also end up having to waste quite a bit of vaccine, seeing as I don't plan on vaccinating 1000 birds (which are the doses I think it comes in).

However, I think it might be worth it, if I can figure out the details of it. I myself am I little squeamish with needles, but I know some people that would be willing to help. I think I read about one vaccination that comes as a dissoluble tablet that can be broken into four and preserved. So that's about 250 vaccinations. I would have to buy all the chickens around the same time, so I can vaccinate them all in one go.

Has anyone ever done something remotely like this, or know more about Marek's vaccinations? Does this sound like it can work? Or is this just some crazy idea? Any advice would be appreciated, and I will keep you all updated as it goes to see if it works.
Thanks!
 

CarpCharacin

Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
Aug 17, 2016
9,490
49,021
1,082
The Marek's vaccine is a "leaky" or permissive vaccine, meaning that it doesn't prevent a viral infection, it just trains the immune system of the bird to recognize the virus, so it often prevents the bird from showing symptoms. If a vaccinated bird is exposed to the virus, it will continue to shed the virus and infect other birds. Were the birds that survived the outbreak vaccinated?
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
5 Years
Apr 9, 2016
14,342
19,905
832
California's Redwood Coast
When I breed... NO Marek's vaccinated birds welcome at my place... allowing the disease to HIDE in my flock... I breed for resistance.

But if can't afford the losses (financially or emotionally) than vaccinated birds is a good option for YOU. Make sure it get's done in the correct time frame or you're wasting you time, money, and effort.

Good luck and sorry for your losses. :hugs
 

microchick

Enabler
6 Years
Dec 31, 2014
9,632
42,824
1,157
NE Missouri
For the vaccination to be effective you have to vaccinate within 24 hours of hatching when dealing with chicks.

I'm dealing with Marek's also. It hit my flock of Buff Orpingtons and Welsummers hard reducing a flock of 38 to 12 birds over the past 4 years. My survivors are now almost 5 years old and for the most part doing well although I lost a hen last month to what looked like reproductive cancer. I am no longer allowing my large birds to reproduce and am working with bantams.

My bantams are from local Amish stock and so far have exhibited resistance to the strain of Marek's we have here. I have over fourty birds and have lost only 3 to the disease and they were all three young birds under a year of age.

Birds I bring into my flock now are all vaccinated and come from Estes and Murray McMurray hatcheries. I am also introducing Egyptian Fayoumi's into my flock to cross breed as they are naturally resistant to Marek's and other avian diseases.

Unfortunately, Silkies are number 1 with a rocket when it comes to Marek's susceptibility. You may still see losses down the line. This year I lost 5 BO and Welly birds in a one month period of time,all showing signs of MD. So it can pop up when you least expect it.

This is a decision you might have to make for yourself but I would recommend contacting your states veterinary college and talking to the avian specialist there. That is what I did and got great advice from them. Then go with what they tell you.

You have my deepest condolences on your losses and on having to deal with this horrible disease. It's a club nobody here wants to belong to but more than you realize do.:hugs

Good luck!
 

rebrascora

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
7,127
8,752
556
Consett Co.Durham. UK
Your problem in getting and vaccinating older birds may be that they have already been exposed to Marek's at the breeders. Most flocks will have some exposure to a strain of the Marek's virus, so by vaccinating older birds you may be wasting time and money because the virus is already one step ahead of you. In my opinion, silkies are just not a good choice if you have Marek's.
There is a high likelihood that your existing flock is still carrying the virus and you will see outbreaks from time to time even in older birds that have previously seemed resistant. I have Marek's and I prefer not to vaccinate because the strain I have is relatively mild and I want to keep it that way. The vaccination may allow the virus to mutate, causing more aggressive strains, so I'll stick with the devil I know.
If you are buying show quality silkies with the intention of showing, I think it may be a little irresponsible when you know you have Marek's in your flock, but that is just my personal opinion.
I would probably get hatching eggs and practice strict biosecurity and incubate and vaccinate if I wanted to add vaccinated birds to my flock or get vaccinated chicks.
 

diamondsilkies

Songster
Oct 23, 2017
713
1,192
181
Southern Arizona
Some of the birds that survived it were vaccinated, but most of them were not. Out of the four silkies I have, two were vaccinated and two were not. The Mareks hit right when I had a young flock of un-vaccinated silkies in my grow out pen (around 7 mo), and all but one of the Marek's fatalities happened in that group. It was also summer, and it gets pretty hot out here (up to about 115 F), so that already puts lots of stress on my birds.

I don't show my chickens, as we have very few shows in the area, and those that we do have don't require any sort of health certificate. The shows also simply aren't big enough to make the conditioning beforehand and the drive out to the fair grounds worth it. Also, as mentioned, I don't want to expose anyone else's birds to the Marek's in my flock. I do, however, sell hatching eggs in my area as well as some chicks. Although I haven't been doing as much hatching since the Marek's break out, and I have been very careful to keep the few chicks that I hatched away from the Marek's.

All this information so far has been very helpful. I really don't know much about the vaccine, so I'm glad I can learn more about it before making my decision.
 

microchick

Enabler
6 Years
Dec 31, 2014
9,632
42,824
1,157
NE Missouri
If you have resistant birds, meaning and this is in the words of the Veterinary doctor at the University of Missouri at Columbia that I talked to when I first suspected I had MD in my flock, birds that have survived without showing signs of the disease and are 3-4 years of age, both hens and roosters,you should be cultivating eggs from those birds and hatching chicks to breed for resistance.

For me, the roosters were the first to be hit hard by the disease simply because of the raging hormones. I current have 2 large breed roosters that have survived to two years of age. One is a Buff Orpington/Welsummer cross (his full brother died in July from throat tumors at 2 years and one month of age) and a Welsummer rooster. They are both 2.5 years of age now and the longest any of my large roosters have survived even though the hens will all be 5 years old in March of next year. IF I was breeding for resistance, those hens would be producing the eggs I would be harvesting to hatch chicks from. Although I would still be taking a risk with the roosters involved.
 

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