Vaccinating for merriks?


8 Years
Aug 29, 2011
San Jose, Ca
I have read a few things about if you should do this if you have a backyard flock, as opposed to a bigger commercial flock.

I'd have to order the shots right away to get them in the first week, I put it off. IS it really something I should do for eggs that come from another small producer?

Help! I'm easily confused!
I will forever regret my decision to forgo the Mareks vaccine. From here on out, every chick that hatches and every chicken I buy, will be vaccinated. The earlier they are vaccinated, the better the vaccine works. It is absolutely devastating to lose a chicken to Mareks. The vaccine is no guarantee, as, if I recall correctly, there is still a 10% chance of them getting it, and that is if they are vaccinated as soon as possible after hatching.

So, yes, in my opinion, I would vaccinate for Mareks, even if it ends up being a little later than ideal. What I think gets confusing is that the vaccines are pushed for the commercial flocks, but not for the backyard flocks. This really comes down to money. A vial of Mareks vaccine can treat like a thousand chicks. So, if a commercial producer is hatching chicks by the thousands, then a Mareks vaccine is going to add about 2cents to the cost of that chick. A backyard flock that has, say, 10 chicks, is going to run about 2 dollars each chick. Also, if a flock of 10 has, say, a 20% rate of infection, then they lose 2 chickens. A commercial flock, with 1000 chickens, at a rate of 20%, would lose 200 chickens. That hurts the pocketbook a bit more. Especially when, in my case, the Mareks incapacitated them just before sexual maturity. A commercial flock would lose out on the feed and expenses of getting a pullet to the point of laying, plus the profit on the eggs that those pullets would have produced. Then, they are out the time it takes to raise more pullets to maturity. In the backyard flock, if you lost 1 or 2 chickens, they could be easily and inexpensively replaced for the cost of a vial of Mareks vaccine. So, financially, it might be a wash.

However, watching your formerly healthy young chickens suddenly start wasting away and developing some freaky neurological symptoms is heartbreaking. For myself, I would rather prevent than to replace. Mareks is all over the place. Chances are, your birds will be exposed, regardless of where they came from.

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