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Q: I plan on vaccinating my chickens – is there anything else I can do to prevent my flock from getting Marek’s disease?

A:

In order to prevent the symptoms of Marek’s disease from affecting your flock, we highly recommend getting your baby chicks vaccinated at hatch. Chicks should be vaccinated as soon as possible after hatching because the vaccine is not effective when given to chicks already exposed to Marek’s disease.

Super Blue baby chicks

In order to increase the effectiveness of the vaccine, keep your chicks indoors and away from all other birds until the chicks are 14 days old, at which point the vaccine will have started to take effect.

The symptoms of Marek’s occur more frequently in chickens that are stressed. Some types of stress are non-preventable, such as the physical stress a pullet naturally endures as she nears the ‘point the lay’. In order to lower other types of stress in your flock, be sure to offer free access to feed and water and take care in introducing young birds to an existing flock – you want this time to be as stress-free as possible for your young birds.