Y or N to Vaccinate baby chicks???


8 Years
Mar 24, 2011
If I buy chicks from a hacthery why would I not want to vaccinate for Marek's Disease and I didn't even know I could vaccinate for Coccidiosis until today or that the medicated feed would nullify the vaccine, but wouldn't these be good things to prevent if possible?

I'm a bit of a conspiracy therorist
but haven't heard enough and/or don't know how much of a problem vaccinations are for anything, human included. So any and all thoughts on the subject are welcome.
Regarding Marek's - I called my local agricultural extension office and inquired on how much of a problem it was around here. Turns out, with all the commercial chicken houses around me, not much of one. In addition, the hatchery I ordered from (Ideal Hatchery) states on their website that they do not recommend the mareks vaccine for small, backyard flocks. Therefore I chose not to vaccinate for mareks.

When I ordered my first batch of chicks from a hatchery, the coccidiosis vaccine wasn't being offered by them. As it turns out that was for the best. If I had ordered them vaccinated for cocci, it would have been prudent to offer them non-medicated feed. Unmedicated is as hard to find around here as hens teeth. Everyone feeds medicated because of our local soil conditions - overrun with coccidia.

It was a no brainer for me.
There is nothing wrong with either vaccination. I'll mention a few things about both that I think you should know.

The Marek's vaccination does not prevent Marek's. They use Turkey Marek's to vaccinate the chickens. What this does is prevent the lesions that do the damage from growing. It is still possible that your chickens can catch chicken Marek's and give it to other chickens, but they will never show the signs of Marek's themselves.

I also checked with the county extension service. There had been one confirmed Marek's case in this county in the previous two years. I know not all Marek's cases are reported, but that did not seem like an epidemic to me. I did not get them vaccinated. For the $10 I saved, I got five more chicks.

I have not looked into the Coccidiosis vaccination for a while so it may have changed. There are several different strains of Cocci that can infest chickens. Immunity to one strain does not give immunity to all strains. I'm going by memory so my numbers could be off a bit, but I believe that vaccination protects against 4 strains and there are 3 strains that it does not protect against. I've seen the warnings that medicated feed or antibiotics in the first few weeks can nulllify the effects of the vaccine.

One strain of Cocci can be pretty vicious, but the others can normally be controlled by keeping the brooder dry. With that one strain a dry brooder and medicated feed is not enough. You have to give pretty strong medication to handle it. Tiny baby chicks can develop an immunity to Cocci easier than older chickens. What I do is to get some dirt from my run and feed it to the chicks in the brooder by their third day so I can introduce the Cocci strains I have to them and they can develop that immunity. I do not feed medicated feed but keep the brooder pretty dry. To allow them to pass that Cocci protazoa to each other, I keep a square of plywood in the brooder so the poop will build up on it a bit. That way they can share Cocci and they all get the immunity.

As I said, there is nothing wrong with getting either vaccination, but you should know that the Marek's vaccine does not prevent Marek's disease. It prevents them from being hurt by it. And the Coccidiosis vaccine does not prevent all forms of Cocci. It prevents certain forms.

Good luck!
Thanks so much for the info, I ordered a bunch of Silver Penciled Rocks and I still have a few bags of the medicated, but have noticed that it's getting harder to find, which is weird because I used to see a lot and now not so much and I'm not that far from you and the soil conditions are probably the same.

Just don't like the idea of big pharma or big agriculture screwing with me or my kids or animals or anyone else regarding vaccinations or our food/medicine and etc. I would like to go a more natural route, but also want to avoid all the bad. Confused as h**l about what I'm going to do regarding worm prevention after all I've read my head is spinning.
This can be a controversial area, but I'll give my opinion. I'm only talking about Coccidiosis and Marek's. You can get vaccinations for other diseases that can have longterm effects, but these are not usually available from the hatchery for us.

Many vaccinations can be given and the chickens remain" certified organic". You need to check with your certifying authority to see which ones may affect their organic certification.

Sometimes the vaccinations are given with needles, which can have obvious effects, especially if the needle does not go in right. Many are given in a spray at the hatcheries. Either the vaccination is breathed in or they injest it when they preen their down. This would be less stressful to them than a needle.

I'm not aware of any longterm negative effects of the vaccines themselves.

If you get your chicks vaccinated for Coccidiosis, them you should not feed medicated feed for the first three weeks or so or you can negate the effects of the medication.

One really controversial part of the medicated feed is the withdrawal period for egg production or butchering them for meat. Some say there is no withdrawal period for either if the chickens eat medicated feed. Some say there is up to a four week withdrawal period. The European Union goes by parts per million in the eggs or meat. I don't have the technology to test my eggs or meat for parts per million, so that did not help me much. The best I can interpret the legalese on the government sites, they say it has not been proven to cause problems. They sometimes point out that they do not say it has been proven to not cause problems. There is a difference in the meaning. I go by a statement I read by a bird veterinarian. He tended to think that it was not a huge problem since the intestinal walls do not allow much Amprolium to be absorbed, but due to the possibility he recommended a one week withdrawal period. But from what I can see, even the experts cannot reach consensus. What chance do I have?

This is pretty much the extent of my opinion and knowledge. I really don't consider either to have any longterm downside.
the withdrawl(meat and eggs) for medicated feed, I have been told, is because some people have a reaction to the sulfur(?) in the food, that's it. It's not a common thing but I was told to err on the side of caution. Wouldn't want someone to have a reaction because I couldn't wait to sell the eggs....
as far as the ground having stuff in it, coccidia, etc. The southern states are horrible for anything. I researched when I lived down there. The soil has so many worms, parasites, etc it is horrible. Unlike up here, where the freeze kills most, they thrive and live in the soil for a LONG time. We were told to routinely worm our animals, whereas up here it isn't really a problem... my 2cents
of course I could be wrong
^^^^^ THAT! Cocci love the warm, moist soil conditions we have here in the South.
The easiest way I've found to find out about what diseases, parasites, poultry health issues, etc., that you may face, based on where you live, is to call your local agricultural extension office. Their number is listed in the phone book, under county government.

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