Not sure what to do regarding vaccination and adding more chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ShadyHillFarm, Aug 18, 2013.

  1. ShadyHillFarm

    ShadyHillFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I purchased a chick assortment from a local breeder this past Spring. Their chickens are vaccinated, the chicks are not. We never vaccinated them and other than a failure to thrive chick and one we had to put down due to injury, they're all big and healthy.

    My dilemma is, I'd like to purchase some sexed chicks from a major hatchery and I'm not sure whether I should get them vaccinated or not. And since I'm new at this, I'm sure there are factors I might not be considering.

    Our chickens are almost completely free-range except for an occasional bit of organic feed if I need to get them in the coop for a reason. They get the some ACV in their water about every other week. Our farm hasn't had any other poultry on it in probably over 70 years, though we have a ton of wild birds. There are no chickens in our immediate area (within at least a 1/2 mile of us). I'm trying to raise them as naturally as I can, in case that matters.

    I appreciate the help!
     
  2. ShadyHillFarm

    ShadyHillFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Bump!![​IMG]
     
  3. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    I would get them vaccinated for Mareks at the very least. Mareks is endemic in most regions, and many birds are carriers even if they don't present with symptoms. If you get Mareks in your flock, it will be a nightmare and will wipe out your whole flock.

    It only costs something like 14 cents a bird to vaccinate. I always get my birds vaccinated when I order them. There is no reason not to.

    Remember, if you opt for the cocci vaccine, you have to feed non-medicated chick starter or you'll nullify both the vaccine and the coccidiostat in the feed.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Whether or not to vaccinate is a personal decision, but if you have ever had Marek's in your flock, vaccination is a good idea. Some information to maybe help you make that decision.

    The chicken vaccine for Marek’s is actually Turkey Marek’s, not Chicken Marek’s. They cannot pass the vaccination on to other chickens since it is Turkey. It needs to be given at hatch and the chicks need to be isolated from other chickens a week or so for the vaccine to take effect.

    The Turkey vaccine does not prevent the chickens from getting the chicken Marek’s and being carriers. It prevents the lesions from forming that causes the problems. A chicken that has been vaccinated can have Marek’s and be a carrier but should never show any signs of having Marek’s.

    Not all unvaccinated chickens that catch Marek’s show signs of Marek’s. Marek’s does not necessary wipe out you entire flock. Some chickens are able to tolerate it better than others. I’m not trying to downplay it. It is serious and can kill or cripple a lot of your chickens. In a small flock it may affect all your chickens. Different strains of Marek’s do different things. The kind we have in this area mainly affects the legs and wings. Another strain may affect the neck more. Another may affect mostly internal organs.

    Marek’s is easily spread. The main way is through dander. It can travel on the wind for really long distances. If one of your chickens has Marek’s, they all do. It spreads that easily.

    I hatch my own chicks and do not vaccinate. I have never had any chick from a hatchery vaccinated. When I first moved here I called my extension agent who put me in touch with an expert on chicken diseases in this area. That expert said there had been one reported case of Marek’s in this county in the two previous years. I did not consider that much of a threat. I have no idea how prevalent Marek’s is in your area.

    When I got my first chicks here I ordered them from Cackle. They only charged $0.10 per chick to vaccinate for Marek’s but they had a $10 minimum. If I got just one chick vaccinated, the minimum charge was $10. The ten cents per chick does not kick in until you order over 100 chicks. I used the money I had set aside for vaccination to get another 5 chicks.

    I don’t know what the right decision is for you. I don’t see any way that getting them vaccinated hurts them at all. I consider it a personal choice. Hopefully this will help you make that choice. Good luck!
     
  5. ShadyHillFarm

    ShadyHillFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you both for the replies.

    I guess what I'm trying to figure out is it going to hurt or jeopardize my existing flock to not vaccinate (as that's where I'm leaning) and introduce these new chicks from the hatchery (Meyers)?
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    My personal opinion is that chicks from a reputable hatchery are going to be as safe as you can get. Since their business and reputation depends on them having healthy chicks, they are going to take biosecurity very seriously. Each hatchery is different and has their own procedures and business models, but I trust the chicks form Cackle, Meyer, Ideal, ad McMurray, just to name a few. You are dealing with living animals so no one can give you a 100% absolute never-ever guarantee, but the major hatcheries are about as sure as you can get.

    If the live chick comes from any other source, I think you are at more risk. People do it all the time and it usually is not a problem, but occasionally there are disasters. When I introduce new blood to my flock, I either get eggs from someone close by and hatch them myself or I order chicks from a hatchery.

    It’s not all that unusual for a flock to develop flock immunities. That’s where a flock has a disease that can infect other chickens but since they developed immunities they will never show any signs. Coccidiosis is a good example of this. It’s possible your existing flock will infect the newcomers. Nothing with living animals is absolutely risk-free.
     
  7. ShadyHillFarm

    ShadyHillFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you!
     
  8. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    I agree with Ridgerunner, chicks from a reputable hatchery are about as close as you can get to a "sure thing." Where you get into trouble is if you buy any birds from a non-hatchery source, or if you ever have anyone visit your coop that has chickens themselves. Many diseases like Marek's can be passed to your birds by the dander that comes off someone else's clothing.

    McMurray and Meyer have no $10 minimum for vaccination. Don't know about the others, but most of my birds are from MMM and Meyer. With those, it's just 10 or 14 cents per chick per vaccine (haven't ordered for a couple of years).
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2013
  9. aggiemae

    aggiemae Chillin' With My Peeps

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    funny thing...when I opening the tread the first thing I though was that chickens need more protection from people bringing in illness from other flocks that they would from newly hatched hatchery chicks.

    For the past three year we purchased our chicks from feed stores. Last year we lost three of six immunized hatchery chicks in the first 48 hours. We ended up finding two unvaccinated replacement chicks at the organic feed store and they have done so well that this year we bought all unvaccinated chicks. It's the first year that we didn't loose even one chick. All eight of them are thriving and the seven hens are all already laying.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2013
  10. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Whether or not you lose chicks really has nothing to do with whether or not they are vaccinated. The vaccines don't harm the chicks, and the diseases they protect against (well, other than cocci) aren't chick diseases. They are things that manifest when the bird is older. This is a case of coincidence, not of causation.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2013
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