Vaccinate or Not

Do you vaccinate your chicks?

  • Yes

    Votes: 62 26.8%
  • No

    Votes: 142 61.5%
  • Sometimes

    Votes: 27 11.7%

  • Total voters
    231

FortCluck

Purple Minion Wrangler
Sep 9, 2019
13,148
56,280
987
Central Virginia
I will say this now since I am the one that started this thread...

Please let's keep this thread on track with chicken vaccines and nothing else.

I do not mind the differing opinions, but this has to do with chicken vaccines and nothing else. If you would like to talk about other subjects please make your own thread somewhere else.
 

BigBlueHen53

Fragile, Beautiful, Strong
Premium member
Mar 5, 2019
3,905
13,094
607
SE Missouri, USA
The vaccine, ultimately, prevents the symptoms only but not the actual infection. So basically, if a vaccinated chicken is exposed to Mareks it will catch the disease but not die. If an unvaccinated chicken is exposed to Mareks it will catch the disease and probably die.
If an unvaccinated chicken is exposed to a vaccinated chicken, whether or not the unvaccined bird dies depends on whether or not the vaccinated bird has been exposed to Mareks which you have no way of knowing because there's no symptoms.

Vaccinated chickens who have been exposed to Mareks can basically become Typhoid Mary's - carriers that appear healthy but get every unvaccinated bird around them sick. This is why the advice of not to keep a mixed flock (vaccinated-unvaccinated) exists. If you bring vaccinated birds that seem healthy into an unvaccinated flock they may be carriers and get those unvaccinated birds sick.

On the other hand, if you have a vaccinated chicken that has never been exposed to Mareks it's perfectly safe to mix with unvaccinated chickens. But how do you know it's never been exposed to Mareks? You often just don't. So many people treat flocks where all the chickens are vaccinated as mareks positive because you just can't tell.

Now as to whether or not YOU should vaccinate... That depends largely on WHY you're keeping chickens.

For example; If your chickens are pets, their lives may matter deeply to you especially emotionally and so you may want to vaccinate them because that way if they DO get sick they have a real chance of living.
If any of your chickens are diagnosed with Mareks it's probably a good idea to vaccinate, that way your chickens have a chance of living because without it a lot of your birds would die.
If your are a closed flock where birds will never leave you may want to vaccinate just to increase the chances of keeping your flock alive generally.

If your chickens are NOT pets or your flock is Mareks free, you may NOT want to vaccinate because you may want to be aware of if or when Mareks hits your flock. If you, say, breed chickens to sell chicks, pullets or hatching eggs having a Mareks free flock is critically important. Knowingly spreading undisclosed virulent deadly livestock diseases can even be a personal liability that gets you sued. So keeping your flock vaccine free might mean they all die someday (maybe) but it might also save you a lot of risk, money and give your chickens a selling point.

Additionally, as said in the great big Mareks FAQ, many of the vaccines are losing their ability to produce a strong enough immune response as the disease mutates. As it is, most commercial producers consider the Mareks vaccine to be 90% effective at keeping Mareks infected birds symptom free. The other 10% (in commercial flocks) still develop serious symptoms and die from it. That percentage of protected birds has dropped awfully low for some vaccine strains as the virus mutates.
And the prevalence of vaccine use has already bred hotter strains - there's a real chance of the disease continuing to get worse and the vaccines continuing to be less effective as people continue to use the vaccines. Does the vaccination of your particular flock of just a few birds influence that? Probably not but maybe,. And we KNOW the more people using them the worse the disease is likely to get world-wide.

So in deciding whether or not you, in particular, should vaccinate you should probably ask yourself;

What are my goals for chicken keeping?
Am I going to be distributing birds to people who need to know if I have Mareks in my flock?
Am I willing to risk my chickens dying to know if they get sick from Mareks?
Do I think my use of the vaccine will influence the world for better or worse? Or does it matter at all because I'm just one little flock?

And then based on those answers and armed with the knowledge that the vaccine keeps birds alive but doesn't stop the spread of the disease itself you can make an informed choice.
Are you keeping a few pet birds with good bio security? Vaccinate.
Are you keeping a breeding flock that's important to KNOW is Mareks free? Don't vaccinate.
Something inbetween? Look at your factors and decide for yourself.

I am only on page 24 of the 33 pages of this thread, but this is the best answer I have seen so far, especially this:

your are you may want to vaccinate just to increase the chances of keeping your flock alive generally.

This, at least, describes my siuation. We only keep about 20 birds, and their primary function is tick control. We sell a few eggs for eating when we have them, but not for hatching, and we don't sell chicks or chickens. We are very isolated and now keep a closed flock. We replace attrition with day-old chicks, and yes, we have them vaccinated. Why? Because the hatchery suggested or recommended it and in our ignorance we thought, "why not?" We will probably continue to do so. We seldom have sick birds and many live to a ripe old age.
 

Meg-in-MT

Enabler
Jan 29, 2018
5,742
43,869
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SW Montana
I have all unvaccinated. I hatch all my own chicks and the organic farm I get eggs from doesn't vaccinate either. I haven't had any issues, but I try to keep my flock as healthy as possible. There's a lot that a chicken can pick up from the ground that we can't avoid, but knowing how to react to it as fast as possible is always key in my opinion. Some people wait days until it spreads through their whole flock. If you have a sick bird, quarantine it instantly and don't wait. Have biosecurity so you're not interacting with the sick and healthy with the same shoes and clothes. Reaction and action are key in a lot of instances with livestock. You don't just sit and wait to see if it spreads.
I thought you didn't know if the feed store you bought chicks from vaccinated or not. Did you end up talking with them about it?
 

FortCluck

Purple Minion Wrangler
Sep 9, 2019
13,148
56,280
987
Central Virginia
I thought you didn't know if the feed store you bought chicks from vaccinated or not. Did you end up talking with them about it?
They don't because of cost. I drop off chicks in their parking lot, I do not buy chicks from them. All my chicks come from a local farm that buys bulk from a hatchery. I need to ask them if they vaccinate them though because I don't know.
 

ChocolateMouse

Crowing
6 Years
Jul 29, 2013
3,020
7,429
447
Cleveland OH
BURN IT DOWN!

I know this is a serious thought but that just made me chuckle a bit.

okay so two questions I have....one Because I’m moving too.

do you have any concerns for what happens when you move to an area where you don’t know what’s prevalent?


also to anyone else here, and I hope this doesn’t get too off topic.

I’ve had some crows move along the creek this week. I like the hawk deterrent aspects. Is it asking for it to try and create an area where I feed the crows to keep them around for hawk deterrents? (id setup a feeding station several hundred feet from my fenced in acreage for chickens.)

isawaspider.jpg


But for serious, that whole moving thing is an actual very real concern. If there's been chickens on or near the property we move to it, it could be devastating. But that's just a risk you take when you move with ANY livestock and it's one of the many reasons why well cared for land is so invaluable. Heck, it's a risk you take when you move as a living being. Your land could be covered in poison ivy, poison oak, hemlock, giant hogweed... You could have Joneses or CDT in the soil. There could be badgers that have bTB, africanized bees near by, west nile or heartworm laden mosquitoes, a coyote with rabies, rats, moles, gophers, skunks, exceptionally high tapeworm or ringworm populations in local wildlife, even lead in the dirt.... You just can't really know even if you wanna test for everything under the sun. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and just go for it.

For me the plan for Mareks is what it is no matter where we are. If we catch it, however we catch it, we do what we have planned already. If we catch it cause we moved somewhere with Mareks, then so be it, the plan remains the same. No more chickens. Probably move into other livestock fowl instead. It's a good excuse to make my partner get me muscovies. I've always wanted muscovies...
 

Meg-in-MT

Enabler
Jan 29, 2018
5,742
43,869
1,127
SW Montana
BURN IT DOWN!

I know this is a serious thought but that just made me chuckle a bit.

okay so two questions I have....one Because I’m moving too.

do you have any concerns for what happens when you move to an area where you don’t know what’s prevalent?


also to anyone else here, and I hope this doesn’t get too off topic.

I’ve had some crows move along the creek this week. I like the hawk deterrent aspects. Is it asking for it to try and create an area where I feed the crows to keep them around for hawk deterrents? (id setup a feeding station several hundred feet from my fenced in acreage for chickens.)
I don't know about the Mareks aspect of keeping crows around, but I can attest to their ability to keep the hawks away. I almost never see hawks, but we've always got a pile of ravens (not crows) around. When we get a hawk coming in, the ravens are not around :rolleyes:

I don't know how you breed chicks (broody raised?) and I know crows are much smaller, but ravens will eat baby chicks.
 

FortCluck

Purple Minion Wrangler
Sep 9, 2019
13,148
56,280
987
Central Virginia
I don't know about the Mareks aspect of keeping crows around, but I can attest to their ability to keep the hawks away. I almost never see hawks, but we've always got a pile of ravens (not crows) around. When we get a hawk coming in, the ravens are not around :rolleyes:

I don't know how you breed chicks (broody raised?) and I know crows are much smaller, but ravens will eat baby chicks.
Yes, I had a raven take a chick right on front of me last year.
 

Meg-in-MT

Enabler
Jan 29, 2018
5,742
43,869
1,127
SW Montana
They don't because of cost. I drop off chicks in their parking lot, I do not buy chicks from them. All my chicks come from a local farm that buys bulk from a hatchery. I need to ask them if they vaccinate them though because I don't know.
This is why I was confused:
1579896437167.png

I don't know if Murdochs here vaccinates or not, I never thought to ask. After reading everyone's opinions/ideas/theories/experiences, I would continue to vaccinate. Although, it's not in my plan to actually buy any more chickens, only raise them from home.

Is MDV more prevalent in warmer climates or does it make any difference? I haven't seen that question or answer yet.
 

jolenesdad

Free Ranging
Premium member
Apr 12, 2015
2,377
9,045
562
Montgomery, TX
I don't know about the Mareks aspect of keeping crows around, but I can attest to their ability to keep the hawks away. I almost never see hawks, but we've always got a pile of ravens (not crows) around. When we get a hawk coming in, the ravens are not around :rolleyes:

I don't know how you breed chicks (broody raised?) and I know crows are much smaller, but ravens will eat baby chicks.
I brood chicks myself, with the occasional broody raising a small number. Good to know, thanks.

@ChocolateMouse best meme ever. And the muscovies sound like the perfect plan. ;)
 
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