1. simonas011

    simonas011 In the Brooder

    Jan 31, 2015
    I bought 4 hens just over a month ago from the same place. They were vaccinated according to the farmer. One of them was put down by the vet 2 days ago as she wasn't growing, wasn'was very skinny and seemed to not be able to use her legs or wings. The vet said it was undoubtedly Marek's. This being my first flock, I had never heard of it before. I did a lot of research but am still confused. Of the three remaining birds (16, 16 and 18 weeks now) I am concerned about my Sussex, I've noticed she is keeping one eye closed, she used to be very active now she is lying down a lot, she stumbles when she walks and one of her toes keeps curling over. Would I be safe in assuming she has mareks too? I know that they technically all have it, but they could be resistant and not ever be symptomatic. What are the chances my Sussex will die :( how long should I wait before I take her to the vet?

    I also really wanted to know would it be safe introducing more chickens to the flock? The vet said to make sure they're vaccinated, but all I can do is take word of the farmer. I've also read that hens night be resistant to one strain or mutation of the disease but not to another, so how risky would it be that if my other 2 hens don't get sick that introducing new hens could end up infecting them too.

    I'm heartbroken and confused and don't know what to do :(
  2. babsbag

    babsbag Songster

    Jan 12, 2010
    Anderson, CA
    Sorry you are dealing with this. I lost my first few hens to Marek's too. Mine were not vaccinated, I had never heard of it, no other chickens at my house, new land so never any chickens here, and the flock I got them from had/has never had Marek's. And yet it raised its insidious head in my flock.

    Of the nine chickens I got 4 or 5 died from Marek's. I had a necropsy done on one to be sure. It can back as "suspected" Marek's.

    I would say that the farmer either lied to you or he was told they were vaccinated. Most people don't do the vaccine unless there is a reason. I do vaccinate if I buy from a hatchery and I don't if I raise my own or if the hen goes broody.

    I have lost chickens to Marek's even now, 6 years later. Probably one or two a year and I have over 50 chickens. The last batch that were hatched by a broody I lost 2 out of 9. So obviously some are resistant and some are not and there is no way to know. Would I buy more chickens if I were you...YES. But I would order them from a hatchery that vaccinates. You can buy the vaccine and do your own, I have done that, but you have to keep the chicks separate for two weeks after you vaccinate and it is supposed to be done on day old chicks. Most hatcheries actually vaccinate before the chick is hatched.

    The vaccine does not prevent the disease, only the symptoms. They will still be carriers so it is safe to say that your flock will always have Marek's in it. You are not alone.

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