Marek's Vaccine Necessary?

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by jem168, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. jem168

    jem168 New Egg

    Mar 15, 2013
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Is it necessary that chicks(ordered or no) be vaccinated for Marek's Disease, or is it possible to take precautionary measures that would avoid exposing the chicks to chemicals and still give them ample protection against disease?[/FONT]
  2. jjdward

    jjdward How bout them DAWGS!

    May 4, 2009
    Buchanan, Georgia
    First off, welcome to BYC, this place is great!
    I have ordered several different times and I have never had them vaccinated. I have ordered anywhere from 50 down to 15.
  3. KristyHall

    KristyHall Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 27, 2011
    North Alabama
    Welcome to BYC!

    It is not necessary but wise. Once Merrick's is in your flock and on your soil, it is there for good. It can be brought in by wild birds or by you if you came in contact with infected birds.

    Now for me, my birds may have been exposed to Merrick's, and I did not have them vaccinated. Because of this I warn everyone I sell to that there is a possibility of previous Merrick's infection, which has cost me a lot of sales. I would never lie to someone about bio security though, so I willingly take that risk.

    Every two or three years I will loose a couple of birds to Merrick's like symptoms, but thankfully it is uncommon in my hardy flock. it is up to you. Merrick's vaccinations can be expensive to do yourself if you only have a handful of birds since most places only sell the vaccine in bulk. If you breed for hardiness and disease resistance like I do, then you may not want Merrick's, since the disease tends to kill the weaker birds. But if you are breeding for other traits, hate to loose birds to any disease, or just want a few chickens then a vaccine might be worth it. Either way it is your choice.

    The vaccine isn't necessarily what one would call chemicals and harmless. Modern vaccines are little more than a basic harmless fluid (i think saline) and dead virus to teach the immune system to recognize the virus and kill it.

    I think if I had, had the option to do it over, I would have vaccinated my birds.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013
  4. cubalaya

    cubalaya Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 19, 2008
    central virginia
    i would rather bred immunity into my birds than vaccinate. the ones that never get sick are the ones to breed from.
  5. jem168

    jem168 New Egg

    Mar 15, 2013
    So in the event that some of the birds do get sick, is the disease always terminal? Are the sick birds now unfit for human consumption? If so how do you dispose of they're carcasses?

    Thank you all for your responses!
  6. DaniellePage

    DaniellePage Out Of The Brooder

    You will get a lot of answers to this in the form of opinions and science based replies (as you have already experienced).

    Learn what you can from reputable sources and make an informed decision.

    A good place to start is your local avian health an diagnostic lab- they have the latest information on infectious diseases for your area.

    As stated before.. vaccines are little more than a saline solution for dilution, and dead viruses. There may be an antibiotic (possibly biological like the penicillin) or a preservative (this can also be a biological or vitamin). You will have to check the ingredients on the brand you choose to use.
    Vaccines are not a cure.
    Just because a bird is vaccinated does not mean it will be safe. Of course if it dies from it and was vaccinated it was a very genetically weak bird to begin with.
    The vaccine will not "weaken" your flock as the vaccine itself is not a medication and does not do the work of fighting the infection.
    Immunizations just give the immune system of the individual a chance to "recognize" the intruder and be better prepared for an attack, should one occur. Much like military training or an emergency preparedness drill.

    Cost: depends on you. If you have a few birds and prefer not to spend $20-30 (one-time) to prevent a highly fatal, highly contagious and painful disease in your small flock it is your decision. Most vaccines cover up to 1000 doses (has to be used in an hour).

    If you want to show or sell, typically by law you must have them vaccinated. Depending on your location... you may have to by law.

    It also depends on where you live. Here in the Pacific northwest USA... Merek's is highly prevalent and highly fatal and if you do not have an established flock that you have bred for resistance,it is risky not to. I have known families loose entire flocks and investments because they did not.

    I have 13 eggs under my hen due at the end of April and I will spend the $30 on a vaccine because...
    1 - I live in an area where the disease is common
    2 - I live in a migratory path (wild birds can "drop" it down)
    3 - I do not want to see my birds suffer from something I could have easily and cheaply prevented
    4 - I want to protect my financial investment
    5 - I can do it myself as I have experience and education in vaccinating animals

    If i do the math it costs under $3 per chick, the eggs were 25 cents each - same as if I were to buy them as day olds from a hatchery with vaccine minus the shipping cost - -I still come out cheaper in the end! And my mother hen can take care of them = no brooder cost or time.

    If they get sick and die you should never eat a sick animal!!!! Never. Best clean practice is burning the carcass. Here, if Merek's is on the land - it can remain for 3 years after your last bird is gone (some folks/experts say once infected always infected). If your bird is Exposed to Marek's and survives (even if vaccinated), it is considered to be a carrier. This is because the virus is a type of herpes virus. Yes, an unvaccinated bird can survive Marek's but may have complications through life as it causes tumors and lesions in any part of the body and remains in the body (herpes virus). Paralysis, organ failure from tumors, suppressed immune system etc...

    (edited for wording and additions)

    Best wishes in your decision.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013
  7. jem168

    jem168 New Egg

    Mar 15, 2013
    Thank you for your input!! I'll really be thinking about what you've said.
  8. 5LexingtonHens

    5LexingtonHens Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 3, 2013
    Lexington, MA
    I have four pullets that I bought from Meyer hatchery that all were vaccinated for Mareks. Currently, I have two chicks that I hatched out as eggs, purchased from a reputable breeder.

    Would it be wise to vaccinate the chicks that were hatched out? If the chicks seem healthy and happy at 2+ weeks of age, should I be concerned about the disease? I have not previously had any chickens on the property (none nearby on any neighboring properties either). My older pullets are now living outside; the coop and run are towards the back of the property near conservation land). There are wild turkeys in the area and they did "visit" our yard prior to us putting up a deer fence about six months ago.

    The cost for the vaccine is a is non issue, my main concern is that my small back yard flock is safe and healthy. I have a horse as well, and have had to give her antibiotic injections prescribed by the vet; so I am comfortable with the idea of giving the chicks vaccination by injection.

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