Still confused about Mareks

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by gritsar, Jan 28, 2008.

  1. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    What I intend to have is 10-12 chicks ordered from Ideal and they will have a run attached to their coop, but will also be able to wander in the larger fenced area around their coop/run when I can be out with them. I also plan to have ducks (ordered at the same time) who will be sharing the same general area as the chickens, but the ducks will also be able to go to the closer of our two ponds when they get older. They'll occasionally be sharing the pond with an egret that hangs around the pond quite a bit and on occasion some wood ducks (although they usually stay down at our bigger pond (maybe 30 acres away) unless something is there that disturbs them, then they fly to the smaller pond or just fly off).
    I intend for my chickens to be a 'closed flock' in that I won't buy more, but when I need more will hatch out from my original flock, either by hen or incubator.
    My concern then is that my vaccinated hens would be carriers and could possibly give mareks to any chicks that hatch out. Also, I could have the ducks vaccinated (or not) but they will be in contact with wild birds and could carry disease back to the hens.
    The closest commercial chicken house is approx. 1/4 mile away on a neighboring farm.

    So do I vaccinate or not? This is driving me crazy...admittedly a short drive. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2008
  2. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy Songster

    Aug 26, 2007
    Longmont, CO
    Me too. I'm still trying to decide what to do.
  3. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    The vaccinated hens you're talking about-are you meaning the chicks you are ordering now that will eventually mother the future chicks? If you have no vaccinated birds now, then it would be my own choice not to vaccinate them at all in the first place. The vaccination does not actually prevent Mareks, if I have read the research correctly, but only prevents the tumors and paralysis that accompany the disease and make it so debilitating. And whatever they can catch from wild birds would probably be something other than Mareks, I'd think, if anything at all. I'm not sure there's much likelihood of anything from the commercial house affecting your birds.
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Yes speckled, what I'm talking about is that I don't know whether to have my future chicks vaccinated when I order. I have no chickens now. And I did give some thought to the commercial houses being around, but then after I thought about it awhile I realized that those commercial "chicken-like" products, are so full of vaccines and antibiotics it's very doubtful they would spread anything. I call them chicken like products because they are so genetically engineered anymore they barely resemble chickens...more like breasts with legs.

    I guess the only way to prevent diseases from wild birds would be to not allow the ducks to go to pond, but that's kinda what I wanted them for in the first place and I'm sure there will be wild birds in the chicken yard from time to time anyhow. It really just comes down to being a matter of luck for that huh?
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Here is my "biologist's" reading of the information I've found. Y'all correct me if I'm wrong:

    It sounds like Mareks is not transmitted by wild birds (dunno whether it could *ever* be but that doesn't seem to be cmmon enough to worry about). Maybe sometimes from turkeys, concievably ducks (there seems to be argument), but basically you get it from other chickens. (Well, I mean, your chickens do). Main mode of transmission is chicken dust, dander etc. Virus can apparently survive in dust, dander etc for up to a year in the environment, and travel quote long distances unquote on the wind.

    The currently 'usual' vaccine seems to be with a turkey strain of the virus which is relatively non-disease-causing in chickens. It provides something like 90+% protection against a chicken getting sick from Marek's -- it does NOT prevent chickens from *acquiring* a pathogenic strain of Mareks and then becoming a carrier, it just (usually) keeps em from getting sick from it. And there can be vaccine failure where it does not provide sufficient immunity and a chicken exposed to Marek's gets it anyhow.

    A major factor in whether chickens get sick from Mareks seems to be husbandry issues -- keeping them well fed, warm, dry, in a large enough space, non stressed, etcetera. Very good care is NOT 100% proof against Mareks but is considered to be pretty good for preventing serious outbreaks.

    One suggestion frequently made is to raise chicks separately from adults for the first 5 months or so, til they become naturally more resistant to falling ill with Mareks.

    Another suggestion is that, if you have problems with Mareks in your flock, you hatch chicks only from OLDER breeders (2 yrs and up) in order to slowly select for more genetically resistant chickens.

    Despite the vaccines, antibiotics etcetera poured into commercial egg and broiler flocks, Mareks apparently still IS not infrequently a serious issue on big chicken farms. I would therefore not assume that dust dander etc from an upwind chicken factory would be 'safe'.

    To me, it seems to come down to what you are happiest with, in terms of your personal 'worry style' [​IMG] It is not obvious to me that there is one best strategy, UNLESS you frequently have new chickens or chicken dander/etc coming onto the property, or suspect that you may have a particularly virulent strain of the virus resident on your property (i.e. have already lost some birds to Mareks). In those two cases it would seem to me somewhat advantageous to vaccinate.

    But if you don't think your flock is extra strongly at risk in either of those ways, my suspicion from what I've read is that it's about six of one half a dozen of the other, just depends on which sorts of risks/worries you prefer.

    Dunno whether that helps, and please do correct me anywhere I've got things wrong,

  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Thank you Pat!

    That indeed helps me alot. The commercial house, as I said, is about a quarter of a mile away and very downwind (I can see the roof of it from the hill in our driveway). There hasn't been any chickens raised on this property in 20 yrs. or so. And I don't have to worry about the wild birds, great! Now I'll worry about the wild birds and avian flu [​IMG] After reading your response I don't think I'll vaccinate after all and concentrate on keeping my flock's enviroment the best that I possibly can.
    My final concern is that my SO is planning on borrowing a disk from the chicken farming neighbor to break up my garden area this spring. I think I'll ask him not to and borrow one from the pig farmer instead.
    Oh the worries I already have about my future chickens! [​IMG]
  7. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

    Feb 11, 2008
    Waterloo, Nebraska
    I wish I had seen this post earlier. I know about Mareks. I have what most would consider a closed flock. Last year we got hit with Mareks. The bird lived, but she limps. Now all my birds have been exposed. Even though no others came down with the illness, they will all be carriers forever. A poultry vet, told me that if you have chickens long enough, you will have Mareks. It is worldwide and hides in the environment virtually forever. The vaccine is so easy and cheap that I will never get another unvaccinated bird. I am hatching my own chicks now. They will be kept separate, and I have to practice biosecurity until their bodies have accepted the vaccine and they are fully immune.

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