Need help with an ethical question.

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by babsbag, Jun 30, 2010.

  1. babsbag

    babsbag Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 12, 2010
    Anderson, CA
    I need to get rid of some chickens and can't / don't / won't send them to freezer camp. They are bantams, mixed varieties, roos and hens. They were hatched out around the end of March. I have 23 of them. I intend to keep a few, but not all. And the roos are getting pretty aggressive with the hens and my older roos so they need to go.

    My problem is this. I have Marek's in my flock. I did not know this for sure when I built my incubator and hatched out some eggs. Then 2 hens went broody and hatched out some more. When I got the necropsy back on my 2nd dead chicken I bought the vaccine and vaccinated all my birds. The chicks were about 5 weeks old at that point and all but 9 were living in the coop already. I know that all my birds have been exposed, but the vaccine may stop the tumors from developing even in birds that have been exposed.

    So do you think that anyone would want these chicks? I have not had any sick birds since the vaccine, and it has been about 7 weeks, but I know there are no guarantees of any kind.

    If I had known then what I know now I would have not incubated the eggs, and I wouldn't have stuffed eggs under my broodies.

    So now what? Do I advertise them on Craigslist, tell all, and let the chips fall where they will? If I am honest about this is it still wrong to try and sell them?
  2. colowyo0809

    colowyo0809 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2010
    Dacono, CO
    edited to remove original comment and to post the following:

    This is a matter that only you can decide. If you are asking the question at all, then chances are you know the answer. At least, that is what several psychology professors, an ethics professor and a business law teacher all seem to agree on. When it comes to ethics, if you are questioning it, then the answer is generally no. However, if you feel that the birds you are selling are safe, and will never pass on Mareks to another supposedly clean flock, then by all means, sell em, give em away, pay people to take them. And remember, all of this is simply advice. I am not telling you what to do, how to do it, or why. You asked for advice, I am giving it. Feel free to use it or not as you see fit.

    I am also going to be taking myself away from this particular thread, it has gotten rather heated, which is why I removed my post content.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2010
  3. dichotomymom

    dichotomymom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 19, 2008
    Dayton Indiana
    If you're honest and someone still wants them, it's not exactly unethical but I hate the idea of transporting birds you know might have marek's and spreading it to other places. For all you know, the person could resell at an auction etc....and then it's out of control.
  4. Oven Ready

    Oven Ready Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2010
    As I understand, vaccination does NOT prevent the spread of the disease, it only protects vaccinated birds against developing major symptoms. Birds with the Mareks virus can still pass it on to other birds even when the original bird has been vaccinated.

    Harsh as it seems, Colowyos suggestion seems to me to be the most sensible. The virus is long lived off host so you must be careful to ensure you don't get another outbreak. It is not transmitted via reproduction so you could keep your original flock genetics by hatching your eggs artifically or under new hens.

    I personally would have a hard time reconciling selling the birds, despite telling the whole truth, because the people most likley to buy your birds after reading the whole truth will be people who didn't understand what you've told them.

    I'm sure there are people here who have gone through the same and will provide you with a host of valuable information and opinions.
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    The ethical question here is why anyone would enter into raising chickens and not be prepared to kill them when it is necessary. It is a tough thing, to be sure, but it still must be done when there is illnesses that can be spread and cannot be cured. Yes, it would be unethical to try and sell them for the reasons stated above but it is also irresponsible to raise animals that you are not prepared to kill to prevent the spread of disease. If you cannot do it yourself, please hire someone to do it for you.

    If your dog or cat had rabies or distemper, you would take it to the vet to be put down. It is no different with chickens, especially with a disease that can be spread to other people's birds.
  6. Lensters

    Lensters Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2009
    Adair Village, OR
    From The Merck Veterinary Manual:

    Marek’s disease is one of the most ubiquitous avian infections; it is identified in chicken flocks worldwide. Every flock, except for those maintained under strict pathogen-free conditions, may be presumed to be infected. Although clinical disease is not always apparent in infected flocks, a subclinical decrease in growth rate and egg production may be economically important.

    I have had Marek's in my breeder barn. It passes via feather dust so even in my carefully ventilated pens there is virus to be found. The way I deal with it is once a bird makes it into that barn it stays for at least 8 weeks unless it becomes infected and then it's carcass is burned. If for some reason I sell a bird after that time I let the potential buyer know that the bird has been exposed and has a small potential to be a carrier. So far all of the replacement breeder stock that has come from my birds has been resistant. Occasionally I'll lose one or two birds that I have brought in from elsewhere.

    I ventilate my barn according to the NPIP rules so my chicks are not exposed to feather dust potentially carrying the virus.

    (added last sentence)
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2010
  7. babsbag

    babsbag Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 12, 2010
    Anderson, CA
    I am trying to be responsible and honest. I don't need people telling me just to kill them all and start over. I guess I could do that, and just not have chickens anymore, but who here would want to do that? I have only had them for a year.

    Even if I were to destroy all my birds my property is still contaminated. Sure, I could start over with vaccinated chicks, but they could still contract the disease and become carriers. I have the first chickens on this land, and the closest to me are 1/4 mile. Yet I still got this disease. How can I win with that? And they birds free range all day so they aren't in the coop breathing feather dust all day. My first ones came from a clean breeder, but yet I have it.

    I would cull any animal that is suffering. I did not start raising birds with the intentions of eating them. I only wanted the eggs. When the chicken got old and/or quit laying it would live out its life as a pet. That is a luxury I can afford right now in my life. DH did the chicken kill/pluck/skin/eat thing as a kid and doesn't want to go there again.

    I have 5 chickens that are 1 year old. One I think has the occular form of Marek's. The other 4 appear to be fine. I got them at the same time and from the same place as my chickens that have died. I have 5 more chickens that are 6 months old, no sign of illness. The rest of my flock are the ones I have raised. They are about 12 weeks old. 9 of those were raised away from the other birds and never came near them until 2 weeks after the vaccine. But I know that being on the same propety even can be too close.

    Killing them all may solve my short term problem, but it won't fix the fact that I have and always will have Marek's on my land. There is nothing I can do to change that.
  8. beckt

    beckt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    I totally understand about them being pets. Mine are the same way all 35+ of them. The only thing I can think of is if you could make a place to keep the unruley roos together and let the girls run with your flock. But I would not want to spread the disease so I would just keep them all. Not much help but all I could think of this late.
  9. babsbag

    babsbag Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 12, 2010
    Anderson, CA
    If culling them would solve my problem long term then I could probably do that, you know for the good of the flock and all that stuff. But since I am "typhoid mary" forever what is the point?

    I guess I could put them on Craigslist and tell them that they have been exposed to Marek's and maybe somebody in the same situation as me wants some more birds. They could end up being fine, there is just no way to know.

    One would think that if my older birds were going to get this disease and die they would be showing symptoms by now. The funny thing is that all the birds I have lost have been New Hampshires, and all from the same breeder and probably from the same hatch. If I didn't have one with a gray eye I would think that it was something else. When I had the necropsies done they just said "presumed Marek's". Not very definitive.
  10. Oven Ready

    Oven Ready Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2010
    BabsBag, I don't think everyone was telling you to kill all your birds and start over (I wasn't ) I think they were giving their opinion on what they would do if they were in your situation.

    One reason for starting over, from eggs, is that as long as you vaccinate all your chicks at a day old then you are as unlikely to be a carrier of Mareks as anyone else and none of your chickens as they grow up will show symptoms of the disease. It is endemic in chickens, hence the vaccine. As Lensters posted - assume all chickens are carrying the virus. Vaccinated ones won't die of it.

    Some chickens have a natural immunity to the disease - I can't quite remember what it is but some to do with Type-B somethings in their blood.

    If it is only one set of birds showing symptoms, as you say, then it's possible that your other birds have the Type-B thingy and are resistant to the disease.

    I think selling birds vaccinated at day one, although in an environment where Mareks has (presumed) been found, is no worse than anyone else selling chicks (in fact probably better as they have been vaccinated). Selling unvaccinated birds would give me, personally, a conscience problem.

    I agree, "presumably Marek's" is hardly definitive and I'm sure it's an easy test if it reacts the same as HSV does, where they test with flourescent dye.

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