Vaccinate or not? (Class assignment)


Oct 28, 2018
Laurel, Maryland
Hi i have an assignment to study the different opinions surrounding vaccines (in animals), i decided to focus on poultry since I'm already well versed on dog and cat vaccines. This assignment is well timed as I'm getting chicks in a few months that i am vaccinating for Marek's (and adding them to an unvaccinated flock). I'd like to hear some different viewpoints, why you decided to vaccinate or not. I need to understand a number of viewpoints if i want to enter the veterinary field.
Also, i want to write a school paper on the different opinions surrounding vaccines. So to whoever answers, mind if i quote you?
Also, if we could keep the discussions civil and poultry-oriented please. Generally I've found BYC to be civil overall, but recognizing that discussions about vaccinations can get heated it needed to be said.


Hatchi Wan Kenobi
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Mar 27, 2012
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Marek's in general is an interesting one to talk about, because it's a 'leaky' vaccine - it doesn't actually stop them from getting Marek's, and therefore, it doesn't stop them from passing it on to other unvaccinated birds. This is because it's made from a turkey virus, which while close enough to the Marek's virus to provide (some) immunity from the symptoms of the disease to chickens, doesn't actually stop them from getting it.

So what can happen here is that a chicken contracts a very virulent strain of Marek's, one that normally would have killed the host and its flock quickly.

But, this chicken and its flock are vaccinated. They don't have symptoms, their owner doesn't even know they're sick. So they decide to sell some of them off. People buy them none the wiser, thinking they look healthy and fine, and put them in their own flocks, who aren't vaccinated. And suddenly they're all sick and dying from a virulent strain of Marek's.

So the solution, you would say, is to vaccinate every chicken. But that's hard because the vaccine is only sold in doses of 1000 and must be used within a day of opening, and usually only big hatcheries are hatching at that volume. That leaves out most breeders, who aren't hatching 1000 chicks at a time.

For that reason, my flock isn't vaccinated for Marek's. I don't hatch enough chicks at a time to buy the vaccine, and I cannot justify spending $30 on a bottle of vaccine, plus then overnight shipping which is going to take the cost up to around $70, to vaccinate 20 chicks every week.

Now, if the vaccine were made in such a way that they sold smaller doses, or that it could be kept once mixed, then I would vaccinate my flock. But as it stands, it's just not a viable option for most small breeders.

Of course, other vaccines aren't like this. For example, I vaccinate my emus for west nile virus and EEE and WEE, since those are easier to get and less prohibitively expensive.

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