should i vaccinate my next round of chicks against mareks?


Sep 20, 2019
my current flock is unvacced. i don’t come in contact with other flocks, my only real risks are some neighbors down the road and going to the feed store, but i’m still worried about bringing it to my flock. i’ve read mixed articles about whether or not its a good idea (some saying it allows worse strains to survive and is a bad idea v others saying theres no evidence for potential herd immunity or total die off of the virus) so i wanted to get some opinions from byc users. i know its not typical to mix vacced and unvacced, is it a bad idea? i just hate the thought of bringing some dander home from the farm supply and watching all my birds die a painful death, and as i add subsequent generations i would like them to be protected. tyia


Apr 8, 2018
Central Illinois
I have never vaccinated any of mine and never had a problem with it. Nobody near me has chickens that free range at all though, so they never come in contact with any other poultry. My biggest risk factor, which I didn’t consider until I read your post, is also the feed store.

With all that being said, I haven’t looked into it too much. I’ve had chickens my entire life and my parents never vaccinated ours so I never did either. I’m interested to read other people’s answers too.


Jul 1, 2020
Northeast Missouri
I have had unvaccinated and vaccinated flocks. I have also had both together. That was back when I was a very inexperienced chicken keeper. In over 40 years of raising chickens. I have never had a case Mareks disease in any of my flocks. So I do not vaccinate anymore. For the past 30 years I have maintained essentially a closed flock. I rarely add birds from other flocks to mine. When I do, they are kept at my farm a few miles away. For a quarantine period. Before I bring them to my home place. Where I keep my other chickens. I have had cases of cocciosis, upper respiratory infections, worms and mites. So I do feed medicated feed to all the chicks that I hatch. I also worm my chickens every spring and fall. In my experience, not constantly adding outside chickens to my flock is the best disease prevention. Along with quality feed, fresh water and keeping their coops clean.


Mar 19, 2020
South-Eastern Montana
My flock is mixed vaccinated and not because I had a mareks scare last winter (turned out the pullets got intonrat poison instead). I had to call and email around to add the vaccine to orders already made, and only got it done on about half (some hatcheries are bad about their phone hours apparently). Except that I know which birds came from which hatcheries and which hatcheries added the vaccine, I cannot tell them apart.

Honestly, would I get them vaccinated, that's a toughy. I did because I thought I had it. It was that cut and dry for me. But.... I really don't know. It would likely save you heartbreak if you got it just in case, but there are definately people who oppose ever using it and just going survival of the fittest. If it were an easier disease to manage, I would likely be in that route too. But it is so easy and fast to spread and it's everywhere.

What some people do, is they had a few "canary in the mineshaft" birds. These are unvaccinated birds (only a few, and not Naked necks or other disease tolerant birds) in a vaccinated flock so that if you do get ir, the main flock is safe, but those unvaccinated birds show the symptoms and let you know that it is now in your flock.

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