Why Vaccinate for Marek’s
There has been an explosion of small backyard flocks, especially since the Wuhan Virus Pandemic. Birds are being sold by thousands of folks, and you have no idea about the history of the stock that they came from nor what kinds of health issues were ongoing when you made your purchase. So, it makes good sense to do all you can to protect your flock from a disease that has a vaccine with over fifty years of historical data to show its efficacy.
So how does this vaccine work?
The vaccine, once a bird is properly vaccinated, uses the bird’s immune system to prevent the tumors that cripple the birds. Here’s the part people often miss! The vaccine will not prevent the bird from becoming infected with the field virus that you are trying to control. It will only prevent the formation of the tumors. While the vaccinated bird will shed the vaccine virus, there is no harm in this as I earlier stated, it cannot cause the disease.
The real issue is the field strain of Marek’s that is circulating on your premise. While the vaccine will keep it from forming the crippling tumors, it will not prevent your birds from continuing to shed this virus as well. The shedding of the vaccine virus and the field strain of the virus are of no consequence to your birds that have been properly immunized. The problem is adding unvaccinated birds that are shedding the field strain, which will expose the unvaccinated birds to the field strain and most likely cause a significant amount of birds to contract Marek’s Disease. The vaccine strain that is also being shed will have absolutely no protective value nor any disease consequences.
Finally, the USDA maintains a poultry disease lab in East Lansing, Michigan that does nothing but study Mareks Diseases and vaccines. Over the years I have met with and talked to several of these researchers. Most recently Dr. John Dunn: If you had chickens would you vaccinate them? He replied “Birds were better off vaccinated than not.” Please check out our other article on Marek’s Disease here.
Peter Brown, aka The Chicken Doctor, has been doctoring chickens for over 58 years and holds an AAS in Poultry Science, and a self trained Poultry Biologist. He is the founder and owner of First State Veterinary Supply, askthechickendoctor.com, and the former Poultry Pharmacy, the only legitimate and licensed, Pharmacy strictly for Poultry! Peter is a partner with Sugar Feather Farm and offers consultations to fowl enthusiasts who have concerns or questions.