Questions about Vaccinations?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by RedBreasted, Nov 5, 2015.

  1. RedBreasted

    RedBreasted Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2014
    I have 3 perfectly healthy hens. And I heard about vaccinations for chickens and diseases that infects them and even cancer for chickens. I just wanna asked some questions about vaccines. (I'm getting 2 new baby chickens next year)
    1.How much do they cost?
    2.Where you buy them at? (Can't find any vaccinations at my local chicken shop)
    3.Do you need a vet to do it or is it a DIY job?
    4.What exactly is Marek's Disease? Is it a tumor or cancer cells?
    5.Should my hens be vaccinated?
    6.Can chickens get the cold or flu virus from humans?
    7.If vaccinating your chickens is a DIY job, then how do you do it?
    8.Is all your fowls vaccinated and is it hard to vaccinate them? Like do you have to wear gloves?
    9.Number 9 is just tell me all about vaccines for chickens and what type are they.
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Hi, heres a response to some of your questions:

    I do vaccinate my chickens these days, as my adult flock has a chronic respiratory condition. If you flock is disease free and you only have a few chickens, i don't really think its worth doing. Since you only have a few, i would not worry about vaccines.

    Depending on the type of vaccine, they can be administered in drinking water, in the eyes or nasal passages on the beak. They are all DIY jobs and the drinking water option is easiest. Its a good idea to wear gloves, but i don't as the vaccines i use are live and cannot survive for long once out of solution and so are not worth worry about too much (but obviously wash my hands thoroughly afterwards).

    Chickens cannot get colds / flu from humans.

    Check with your state agricultural body (or any commercial chicken farmers in your area) as to what are the most commonly vaccinated against diseases. I live in Kenya, so the common vaccines used here are irrelevant to you.

    Cost and source of vaccines i cannot answer as i live in a different continent.

    Hope this helps a little

  3. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    1. Most hatchery and feed store birds come vaccinated. From a hatchery vaccinations run about 10-20 cents a chick, depending on the hatchery. To buy a bottle for home vaccination runs 20-40 dollars for a one-time use, 1000 dose bottle or similar.

    2. Bottled vaccines can be purchased online from livestock or poultry supply companies, such as Randall Burkey or Stromberg's.

    3. Vaccination can be done at home; it's done at one day of age via injection in the scruff.

    4. Marek's Disease is a herpes virus, and arguably one of the most common diseases affecting the domestic chicken. Once introduced it stays in a flock for life and both recovered and asymptomatic birds are carriers and capable of spreading the disease. Mild strains of Marek's (~5% or less of the flock affected) are, in some geographical areas, incredibly prevalent, appearing in nearly all flocks which are not confined indoors. Moderate and extreme forms (causing 20, 30, 40% or even higher morbidity and/or mortality) are less common. Any flock with any kind of extreme form should be put into a lifetime quarantine or destroyed, depending on the owner's wishes. Symptoms include tumors (both subcutaneous and internal; both benign and cancerous), paralysis, mishapen pupils, wasting while eating well, and lesions in the feather follicles. There is no cure or treatment for these symptoms, although some say St. John's Wort can help birds recover. Vaccines do not prevent a bird from contracting and spreading the disease, but they do prevent the bird from showing symptoms or becoming sickly (excluding the 5% of the time the vaccine fails, usually due to the bird having an inadequate immune system. Can't strengthen a wall if there's no wall there to begin with).

    5. What breed are your birds? Are they breeder stock or hatchery stock? Hens and cocks cannot be vaccinated; Marek's vaccines (and some others I believe) are only effective when administered prior to 48 hours of age. Certain breeds, such as Silkies and Polish, or less resistant and should be vaccinated, especially those of hatchery lines. Other breeds, like Barred Rocks or Orpingtons, have much better resistance. Breeder lines of most birds neither are commonly vaccinated nor require it, as they are typically far more resistant than hatchery lines.

    6. Chickens cannot contract the cold or flu from humans. Chickens do not experience these kinds of viruses and bacteriums like humans do; while chickens can have what appears to be a cold - coughing and sneezing that goes away after a week or so - this is always due to environmental causes. The viruses and bacteriums that cause actual colds and flus in chickens are often potentially deadly, extremely contagious, and will remain in the flock for life, with most sickened birds recovering and relapsing many times and most asymptomatic birds becoming carriers and spreaders of the disease. This is known as chronic respiratory disease.

    7. The Marek's vaccine is admistered at one day of age, via an injection in the scruff. I believe most vaccines are administered similarly, although some are given at an older age. Marek's and Coccidiosis vaccines are the two most common ones; its generally not recommended other vaccines are administered, as many are live and only for use in flocks which have already contracted the disease, and if you practice good biosecurity and strict quarantine, these other vaccines should be entirely unnecessary. Marek's vaccines are recommended for most flocks since the disease transmits so easily. Coccidiosis is only necessary if the owner chooses not to feed medicated starter. If medicated starter is fed to a cocci-vaccinated bird it will null the vaccine.

    8. For the Marek's vaccine, it is fine to keep a mixed flock of both vaccinated and non-vaccinated birds, provided none are under three weeks of age (it takes three weeks for the vaccine to take effect; if they happen to contract the virus prior to this age, it's effect may be void). Vaccination should not be done with gloves, as it will be hard to hold the bird.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2015
  4. RedBreasted

    RedBreasted Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2014
    My hens are Rhode Island Red (The one that crow like a rooster), Brown Leghorn, and Buff Orpington.
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Flock Master Premium Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    I would recommend getting new chicks vaccinated for Mareks at the hatchery. It only costs a dollar more, and it's such a terrible disease causing paralysis, tumors, and a lack of immunity, that it is really worth it. Feed store chicks or ones hatched by local breeders are not usually vaccinated for anything (with a few exceptions.) Since I have had no diseases in my flock, I don't vaccinate for anything else. The problem with some vaccines is that they may have to be repeated once or twice a year. The best way to prevent diseases is to quarantine any new chickens for at least 30 days to watch for signs of respiratory diseases or others, and check them for lice and mites. When people go to multiple sources buying certain breeds of different ages, and then mix them, this is when a disease can get into your flock and wipe it out. Don't allow others with chickens to come visit around your coop, and you do the same. Wear the same pair of shoes into your coop, and only use them for that purpose. Chicken swaps and poultry shows are a good way to bring home diseases. Here are a couple of good articles about vaccination:
    1 person likes this.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I do not vaccinate my chickens for anything. Before I got chickens when I first moved here I called my extension agent who put me in touch with a poultry disease expert. We chatted about the occurrence of various diseases in my county and about how I planned to manage them. Not all cases are reported but there had been only one reported case pf Marek’s in my county during the previous two years and that was not real close to me. Also I have a mostly closed flock. The only way I bring in new chickens is by ordering them from a major hatchery or getting hatching eggs and hatching them myself. I do not show or go to chicken swaps. Mine are not that exposed to other chickens so my risk of disease is pretty low. Not everybody has as good an extension agent as mine and not every extension agent has access to an expert like that but this is a center for commercial chickens since Tyson is headquartered here. There are a lot of resources here because of that. At least I felt I was able to make an informed choice.

    I’ll try to answer some of your questions, but since I don’t vaccinate I can’t answer all of them, but maybe even a few you did not ask.

    It costs money to vaccine chicks. I don’t know of any hatchery that automatically spends that money to vaccine all their chicks for Marek’s. Different hatcheries have different pricing regimes. With some it is pretty inexpensive, some not so much. When I looked at it several years ago Cackle charged a lump sum of $10 if you had any chicks at all vaccinated for Marek’s then after a certain amount add on a per chick cost. When I decided to not vaccinate I used that $10 to buy five more chicks. If you are getting them from a hatchery you’ll need to look at their individual pricing regime.

    I don’t know where you are getting those two chicks but it’s unlikely you will get only two from a hatchery unless you are splitting an order with someone. You can buy Marek’s vaccine and administer it yourself, plenty of people do. The smallest quantity you can buy is probably enough for hundreds of not thousands of chickens and it is a live vaccine. You cannot store it forever, but I don’t know details of how or how long you can store it.

    Marek’s is a nasty disease. It has some similarities to cancer but it’s not quite the same thing. Marek’s cause tumors to grow on joints, muscles, or body organs. Different strains of Marek’s tend to attack different places, one the neck, another wings and legs, another internal organs. Usually Marek’s will not wipe out your entire flock, some chickens seem to have a resistance to it, but it usually hits a significant number. Sometimes those tumors kill directly, sometimes they cripple the bird so it cannot eat and drink so it dies of thirst or starves to death. Sometimes they live as a cripple. In any case if you have Marek’s in your flock every bird, whether affected or not, has the virus and is a carrier for life. There is no cure.

    The vaccine is actually Turkey Marek’s. It does not cure Chicken Marek’s and it does not prevent chicken Marek’s. It prevents the tumors that do the damage from developing. That’s important to know. Even if they have been vaccinated they could still be a carrier even if they never show any symptoms themselves. And since it is Turkey Marek’s, not chicken Marek’s, your vaccinated chickens are not carriers because of the vaccine. They may become carriers if they are exposed to chicken Marek’s but it is not because the vaccine. That is not true about some other live vaccines. I can’t remember which vaccine it is but there is at least one that will make the chicken a carrier for life that will infect unvaccinated chickens. You need to research each vaccine on its own.

    Chicks are normally vaccinated for Marek’s immediately after hatch. It takes a while, a week or more, for the Turkey Marek’s vaccine to take effect. If the chicks are exposed to Chicken Marek’s before the Turkey Marek’s takes effect the vaccine may be ineffective. You can vaccinate older chickens but if they have already been exposed it’s likely to not be effective.

    If you know you have Marek’s in your flock you probably want to vaccinate but that doesn’t work really well if you let a broody hen hatch and raise the chicks. She’ll expose them before you have a chance to vaccinate. You have to incubate them yourself and keep the chicks isolated until the vaccine takes effect. Since some chickens are resistant to Marek’s if you let nature take its course, after a few generations you will have a flock that is mostly resistant to Marek’s but it will never be eliminated. It can always how up. I said Marek’s is a nasty disease. It is in many ways.

    Whether or not to vaccinate is a personal choice. It’s not always an easy one. I wish you luck however you choose.
  7. Sonya9

    Sonya9 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 7, 2014
    Jones County, Georgia
    One popular vaccine for adult birds (and chicks) is the fowl pox vaccine. I have never used it, but I have thought about it especially after seeing the horrid photos of sick birds and the number of cases on the board recently.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015

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