Vaccinating older birds

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by chickiemom3, Feb 18, 2017.

  1. chickiemom3

    chickiemom3 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2016
    Northeastern OH
    We have an established flock of mixed breed pullets and 1 cockerel that are 6 months old. We got them as day old chicks from a hatchery and had them vaccinated for Mareks. We are in the process of preparing for my son's 4-H project. We will be getting 4 4-month old pullets from a reputable breeder. They have not been vaccinated. I can't even imagine how devastated my son would be if the birds became ill and we hadn't done everything possible to protect them. I would appreciate any advice from experienced chicken keepers out there about whether we should vaccinate (if you even can) the new birds coming in. If it makes a difference, the new birds are coming from a town 2 hours away. Thank you very much for any advice.
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    You can vaccinate older birds, but my understanding is it takes about 2 weeks for the immunity to develop. So, if you wanted to be as safe as possible, you'd need to keep your new birds off your soil and have very vigilant bio-security for at least that long to keep them from coming in contact with any virus that had been shedded.

    You can purchase the vaccine on line, from livestock supply companies. It's a very short lived thing, once reconstituted, so you'll need to read the directions and have everything set up ahead of time to get everyone vaccinated in the hour or so time frame you've got.

    I would do a risk vs benefit analysis. What are the chances of Marek's on your property? Have you had any issues with it in the past? Any other birds besides your current vaccinated flock? Do you visit other properties where chickens are kept? Know anyone with Marek's symptoms?

    To me, the vaccine is fairly spendy (I think $30+), and for only 4 birds, that's a lot. You can't hold it over for later.

    but, if the birds are special in some way, it's probably worth it to you.
  3. chickiemom3

    chickiemom3 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2016
    Northeastern OH
    Thank you for the response. We have been super busy getting ready for the new girls! I do not have any history of any kind of illness in my flock (that I know of) so I am not terribly worried about the new pullets catching anything. I suppose I am far more concerned about when it is time to head to the fair. This is our first experience with 4-H but it seems as though it is fairly common for animals to spread things when kept in such close quarters. I am not concerned about the cost of the vaccine as our birds are considered pets before livestock. Biosecurity measures will unfortunately be restricted to 250 ft away from our existing flock; as our flock generally free ranges, the new birds will be exposed right off the bat (but again, we have not had any illness I am aware of). At this point, we will probably wait until closer to summer before considering vaccinating and that way we can use the vaccine for any chicks added to our flock as well.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    There are multiple strains of mareks...hard to vaccinate against them all.
    There are also multiple diseases that could be spread/picked up at a's always a risk and again, hard to vaccinate against them all.
    Many diseases can be carried without symptoms until bird is stressed, suppressing immune system and allowing organisms to bloom.

    I would ask the 4H leaders what are the requirements/preventions regarding disease for showing at the fair.
    They would also have a good idea of what diseases might be prevalent in your area.

    If your birds free range and can get right next to the new birds coop/run, you might as well not even bother to 'quarantine' the new birds.
    Consider this biological/medical quarantine info:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    BYC 'medical quarantine' search
  5. chickiemom3

    chickiemom3 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2016
    Northeastern OH
    The only requirements 4-H birds have is the pullorum (sp?) testing. The breeder i am seeing today is one of the NPIP testers for our state and I know he is involved with shows, so perhaps I will see what he thinks risks are.
    I was planning on confining my birds to their run during the quarantine period, despite the noisy objections I've received already today. The girls do not approve of this plan at all.

    Thank you for your reply and the links. I am very dependent on this site for advice and it is greatly appreciated.
  6. henny1129

    henny1129 Crazy Livestock Gal

    Being a 4-H'er that shows at the fair, I've found it is the larger animals (goats, sheep, cattle, etc.) that will get sick. Honestly, I wouldn't worry about vaccinating your birds. Some might say this is a risk, and maybe so because bad things happen, but I don't think it's nessacary to vaccinate. And if you think about it, people in the poultry barn care about their animals, so they aren't going to bring their sick birds to fair and make it worse. The most important thing is to have your birds pollorum tested (NPIP) within 90 days of fair. :)

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