Archive for March 2013

To Vaccinate or Not (for Mareks)

We have recently had several customers report loosing chicks early for no apparent reason. The chicks seem fine upon transfer to the new brooder and even thrive for a day or so. Then, suddenly, one chick develops lethargy and dies 6 to 12 hours later. Given that other chicks in the brooder are doing fine, the temperature is good, etc., etc., it is most likely a vaccine reaction that is killing it.

This experience fuels the debate on whether or not to vaccinate chicks for Mareks. Until the past few years, the backyard enthusiast has not had to worry about the virus that causes Mareks. However, as I’ve reported before, with the popularity of backyard flocks growing, there are more and more flocks for the virus to leapfrog.

My feeling is that I would rather take the risk of loosing a few more chicks by vaccinating and us (as a business) having to replace them young, then have people invest 6 to 12 months in raising a bird only to have it develop paralysis and die a slow, painful death. When people have just a few birds, they invest a whole lot more time and energy (both physical and emotional) in raising them, which makes the loss of one more difficult when they are older.

If you are a backyard chicken owner, I would appreciate your comments on this topic. Your insights may influence what we do with regard to vaccination.