The Marek's vaccine for chicks has always been delivered in a freeze-dried format that is then mixed with a carrier for injection into day old chicks. It was fridge stable and was easy enough to transport by order.
Zoetis has now officially ceased to make the freeze-dried vaccine for Australia indefinitely.
Bioproperties makes an alternative Merek's vaccine for the Australia market.
The alternative vaccine costs less than the original freeze-dried variety, however, the cost is considerably more when chilling is calculated into the transportation and storage until use!
This will NOT make it easy for the small backyard breeder with a dozen or two chicks when the cost of dry ice or liquid nitrogen deliveries are added to the cost.
The cells holding the virus in the vaccine need to be storage very carefully in one of two ways:
- Dry Ice (for short term transportation - defrosting state)
- Liquid Nitrogen (for long term storage until required for another hatch - frozen state)
The vaccine will still need to be correctly prepared with the diluent (carrier) - following the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
The benefit to this alternative vaccine is that it will be stable for several hours once mixed unlike the freeze-dried vaccine that could only last for up to an hour.
Once the vaccine has been thawed it cannot be refrozen as it will destroy the cells that hold the virus. So this brings in questions about breaking up the vaccine into smaller batches for later use.
- The vaccine order needs to be placed on dry ice and stored safely until ready for use.
- The vaccine order must be transported on dry ice or in dry liquid nitrogen - requiring special care by the transportation company which may add to the cost. (Class 9 hazardous goods label)
- Those who are use to using the freeze-dried vaccine may need to rethink how to access the vaccine and if its worthwhile continuing.
- Have a supply of dry ice or liquid nitrogen storage for the vaccine. Where will this be located on your property?
Liquid nitrogen needs to be topped up regularly - so the ongoing costs of storage increases.
NOTE: Never place dried ice into a deep freeze with the vaccine. Dry ice vapour is also detrimental to most refrigerators.
For more information, see the Australiasian Poultry magazine Oct/Nov 2017 issue pages 24-25.