Chicken Care Tips

Vaccinate Your Chickens

Prevention by Vaccination

Poultry have a good immune response to diseases and to vaccination. They also pass on immunity to their offspring through the egg. Breeders, therefore, require a special vaccination program. The following are the recommended vaccination programs for chickens:

  1. Marek’s disease (MD) – All vaccinations against MD are live and are to be given by injection. If possible, all chicks should be given MD vaccine immediately after hatching. Normally, two types of vaccines are given concurrently. This will eliminate giving another vaccine at a later date. Chicks must be kept in a clean pen, away from other chickens, for three weeks.

  2. Newcastle disease (ND) – There is only one serotype of ND vaccine that protects against all pathotypes of the virus. Maternal antibody is provided for several days by immune hens. In places where velogenic virus is endemic, vaccination must be given before the 7th day, on the 21st, 35th and 48th days. More immunogenic vaccine must be given on the 3rd and 4th vaccination. Vaccinations should be repeated at 45 to 60 days intervals in places where ND is endemic. Eye drop administration is best for chicks; live spray vaccine is best for adults. Vaccine in feed may also be available. Some vaccine may be given by injection.

  3. Infectious bronchitis (IB) – There are many serotypes of IBV. There is some degree of cross protection; however, new serotypes appear to be able to evade the immunity of some vaccines. Live vaccines given in water or by spray are ideal for growing chickens. Other vaccines are recommended for adults. Please be warned that some serotypes of IBV are harmful to the kidney.

  4. Infectious bursal disease (IBD) – There is one major serotype of IBDV but there are many pathotypes. A mild strain of vaccines will not provide protection against highly pathogenic strains of virus. Maternal antibody is provided for 7 to 14 days by immune hens. For pathogenic strains of virus present, moderate strength vaccine should be given at days 8, 14, and 28. For maternal immunity killed vaccine in oil, administration could be at 16 and 18 weeks and may be repeated 35 to 45 weeks when necessary.

  5. Avian encephalomyelitis (AE) – Only breeders must be vaccinated. Egg layers could be vaccinated also to prevent a drop in egg production. Vaccination is given at about 12 weeks by water or a wing-web stab.

  6. Viral arthritis (VA) – The arthritic form of reovirus infection is very rare. When it occurs, broiler breeders should be vaccinated twice to provide protection to chicks. Vaccines could be either live or killed.

  7. Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) – Live MG vaccine is most effective when given to MG negative chickens before they become infected. Protection is less when vaccine is given before 4 weeks.

  8. Infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) – This disease can be prevented by isolation and good sanitation procedures. The vaccine virus is live and there is the risk that it may revert to pathogenic virus. It is shed for life by vaccinated chickens. Where it is endemic, breeders and egg type chickens should be given eye drop vaccine when they are moved to the laying house. Sometimes, broilers are vaccinated through the drinking water at three weeks.

  9. Fowl pox – It is spread by mosquitoes and cannot be prevented by isolation. Live pigeon pox vaccine may be given by wing-web stat at 18 to 12 weeks.

  10. Egg Drop Syndrome (EDS, Adenovirus Group III) – Where EDS occurs, layers and breeders should be vaccinated at about 16 weeks with killed oil-adjuvant bacterin.

  11. Adenovirus Group I (Inclusion body hepatitis, IBH) – There exists 12 or more serotypes of adenovirus Group I. Subtype 4 and 8 may cause disease without previous immuno-suppression. Live vaccines are used to prevent infections.

  12. Fowl cholera – When endemic, chickens may be vaccinated with killed or live vaccine. Autogenous bacterins may be required for protection against the many strains of Pasteurella multocida.

  13. Infectious coryza – Live vaccine is not available for this disease.

  14. Coccidiosis - Chickens should be protected by medication until they develop immunity or by oral vaccination at day 1.