Moving Forward- Breeding for Resistance to Marek's Disease

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by sassybirds, Jun 5, 2014.

  1. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Quote: Oh, Jen, you are so right (she says as she's landing from another Olympian jump).
  2. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

    Apr 7, 2011
    Western NY
    My Coop
    I call it "personal acceptable risk". We must all decide at what point risks are acceptable either because we can't do anything about it, or doing something about it would take the enjoyment out of something permanently. It's one thing to occasionally do things we don't want to when it comes to the things we enjoy (I sure hate it with all my heart when I have to put a bird down because it is suffering) but if every day of your otherwise enjoyable thing becomes tedious and joyless... well.

    So we must all, individually, access our personal acceptable risks. This comes by educating ourselves, and from this education deciding what parts are the most important to us. There isn't really any wrong answer as long as we are not knowingly harming others in our decisions.

    This is inherently more complicated when dealing with the well-being of other creatures (compared to risks that are only risky to oneself), be it other people or, in our case here, the lives of our chickens (many of us really love our birds it seems!).
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  3. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

  4. ChicKat

    ChicKat Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    I understand that the university level study - as described - with a very large number of chickens and an equal number of control chickens and the identical strain of Marek's given to each in the same dose at the same time -- would be more like a proof of breeding for resistance.

    Some other studies have been cited subsequent to this post -- that perhaps followed those exact protocols - I admit I didn't follow all the valuable links going through. IMO what the original poster means - and what most of us that have back yard flocks mean is that we choose to by-pass the vaccination route - And that the flocks that we raise must develop and grow without the vaccine. They must obtain their own resistance or immunity to Merek's.
    tridentk9 - thanks for all the research and the good links. As tough as it is and as risky- I believe that flocks can thrive and survive if a chicken years ago in that flock died from Mareks.
    A very sound position - and among the particular chickens that I have heard that have greater resistance to the disease are those with a B21 gene that is resistant to Merek's -- A study I read years ago - and I'm sorry I haven't found it again since - so you can take it or leave it on my word - stated that White Leghorns were more resistant (B21 genetics) than many other breeds - and among the most susceptible breeds are Rhode Island Reds. -- My first loss was a black sex-link - the first year I had chickens - and it was a RIR X BPR.

    For those who have rare breeds - like the Spitzhaubens - not only are they new to our envirionments, but resistance in their strains are to diseases in foreign countries...and the Merek's here in the USA (and the vaccines) are different from the ones in the UK, and also different from Australia's Merek's I believe.
    Thanks for these clarifications - I understand that to be scientific it is very difficult to be 100% - and so using the terms reinforces the integrity - but for a novice - it would be nice to have them be more 'blunt'. IMO.
    This was addressed subsequent to this post-- but it was in my multi-quote collection - and I appreciate the viewpoint. Marek's is in the air, and on peoples shoes - and it would be more dynamic to be able to reduce the influence it has on our chickens than to try to provide a sterile environment for our chickens to my way of thinking. The resistant or even possibly immune chickens could thrive in their environment and they could survive. Infact isn't the turkey herpes virus a mild form - and perhaps the milder strains of Merek's could protect a chicken from the more virulent. Add to that the vaccine that we would get for home use is more incomplete than the one used in hatcheries -- the home-vaccinated chickens in a way have turkey Merek's don't they? or am I misunderstanding what Dr.Davis wrote to Speckled Hen about the two different levels of vaccination?

    Yep, that's how it worked, I followed you here - and learned a lot more about Merek's.
    There was one year in the drought when the 'wild' birds were all over the feeders - and out ate the chickens... There can be a lot of wild bird visits - and who knows who's flock they last visited........I think it is a fairly real part of the puzzle. Perhaps wild birds were the source of the OPs introduction of the virus.

    Wish that the resources were available to you as well -- you could probably find some answers that would be helpful.

    Seminolewind - I'm very sorry to hear about your loss of Fern,
    on your point of researchers--- Most of the research is funded in part by the major companies, isn't it? For them it is a different ball game entirely - as you have noted - It's all in and all out -- and not a continuing process like a back yard flock.... It is kind of going to be up to individuals - like the people participating in this thread to work together to find what answers we can and what approaches seem to work and make sense and then share the results...

    This is a good point--- I wonder to what degree a bird entered in a show is exposed to various diseases. Because you enter shows and continue to have healthy chickens, it could be that you have birds with a great deal of immunity.

    Speckled Hen -- interesting thought about cross species virus infection - but what if it is like the original 'cow pox' - that prevented people from dying of small pox? One a mild disease and the other one deadly - maybe it isn't all bad. Just wondering about the possibilities.

    Several years ago - someone from Europe was expressing the opposite view of many in the States...they were saying that they wished people wouldn't vaccinate for Merek's because then they take their vaccinated bird to a show, it sheds Merek's and infects the bird in the next cage - and Merek's is brought home from the show-- This may be extreme....and he may have been lamenting to prove a point. In the USA there is a tendency IMO to over medicate chickens - I see a lot of people asking for help on the forum and a large number of replys will go straight to the pharmaceuticals. I'm not sure that vaccination (except for the 18th day to the embryo) is the answer to solve the problem. I appreciate that many people will choose this - and that will give their own flock protection - from the tumors, and the worst symptoms - but I think it needs to be clearly understood that the virus can still be carried by a vaccinated chicken.

    Thanks so much for all the contributions here - I hope it keeps up.

    some years ago - I put together a Merek's fact site here on is open to contributions by everyone - your approach, your experiences etc. -- just go to the site and click the edit button. I'm going out to update it now - and put a link to this thread---since there is a lot here that has surfaced since I first made the site. Please feel free to put things at the link that you feel may help others. Thanks
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2014
  5. tridentk9

    tridentk9 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2014
    I think it's more a case of poor editing.
    1 person likes this.
  6. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I hope so, but I've heard this from many people on BYC over the years and on other boards I used to cruise through. I hope they fix that error.
  7. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    Keeping turkeys does not give your chickens immunity. Nothing gives chickens immunity from Marek's. Research has not found turkey ownership to cause resistance in chickens CONsistantly. Chicks can get resistant antibodies from a hen but it only lasts a few weeks.
    Marek's virus does not travel with an egg. A hatched chick would have to be exposed to a carrier.
  8. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida

    The ground and leaves, and trees can not be disinfected. So it will remain with you but I don't know how long.
    I don't know if guineas are enough of a chicken breed to get Marek's. Someone else must know.
  9. Suzie

    Suzie Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 9, 2009
    This thread is fascinating to of the very best I have ever seen on much information from those of you who have knowledge you impart to us lay people...the powerful messages speak volumes...thank you everyone who contributes!

    Seminolewind....I am so very sorry to hear of yet another you have lost....RIP Fern....I cannot imagine how you are feeling but the loving support of everyone who has the privilege to know of you will be feeling your loss with you...our hearts share your sadness...


    1 person likes this.
  10. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Yes, I do know that, so really, I guess I'm just asking if guineas would be fine and not at risk on property where a chicken flock was MD-positive. Of course, knowing me, I'd still disinfect the coop and lime and till pens, etc, before adding new birds of any species if I had this issue and was starting over, though I realize no one can disinfect acreage. Hopefully, someone else might know this.

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