Q: Should I get my birds vaccinated?
A: Marek's disease is a deadly, highly contagious "lymphoproliferative" disease affecting chickens. It is the #1 disease-related killer of chickens. It can cause paralysis, blindness and death in up to 80% of an infected flock. There is no cure for a flock once it has been infected; the only way to prevent the disease is to vaccinate.
In our experience, small, isolated backyard flocks are less prone to infection than larger flocks in general, but in areas like the Pacific Northwest, Marek's is rampant, so not vaccinating your birds can be a recipe for disaster. If you don't know if Marek's is prevalent in your area, we recommend you contact your local extension agent to find out.
Whether to get vaccinations for your flock or not is a personal choice. In most cases, a vaccination is consistent with organic management practices, but local regulations vary, so you will have to check with your local regulating agency.
When purchasing from My Pet Chicken, you will be given the option to have your chicks vaccinated for Marek's disease during the check-out process.
Lastly, just to clarify, Marek's Disease does not affect people (or even other animals). Avian metabolism is very different, and there are very few things that affect both people and chickens. Even the type of lice that commonly bother chickens don't bother people. The vast majority of illnesses people get from chickens come from improper cooking or preparation of chicken eggs or chicken meat.
Thankfully, ducks and geese are less prone to most common poultry diseases and parasites, so they don't need to be vaccinated. Because of that, we do not offer a vaccination for waterfowl.
You might consider purchasing The Chicken Health Handbook, sold here on our website, in order to inform yourself about health issues more completely.