Is vaccinating your day old chicks for Marek's going to be worthwhile any more with the change of vaccine available in Australia as of 2017?
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:
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.
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.
Australian winters are very different to the northern hemisphere, so our preparations and activities can be a little different due to the lack of snow in most parts of the country. There is always buying, selling and ordering to do, but here are a list to help get you on track for the rest of the year!
#1 thing you DON’T need: Heaters in the coop
I’m saving you money already!
Here are my TOP 5 winter chores
Straw - bales and chopped
Chickens can regulate their own heat with the fluffing up and the contracting of their feathers. So we only need to focus on their feet, especially feathered leg varieties as they are more susceptible to the cold when their leg feathers are wet for a long period of time. Bantam poultry need the most care.
Straw Bales: $7-9 each approx.
Chopped straw or Sugar Cane Mulch: $9 approx.
Give them a full bale of straw to jump up onto. Place in a semi-sheltered area, such as under a covered run, shed easement, inside a large walk-in coop, tree or trampoline.
A bale of straw provides:
Chopped straw or sugar can mulch is great for reducing the muddy conditions, especially in high traffic areas into the coop. This may need topping up throughout the winter, but will be worthwhile.
Do you need to add extra straw to the roosting area in a small coop?
No, in most circumstances it can be a waste of money and increase the risk of lice and mites. However, these pests are less active during the cold months. So it’s really up to you, but it’s not necessary. Save yourself a few dollars.
Some chickens loves to perch outside rather than in a cozy coop – they are so resilient.
Clean out the nesting boxes
Refresh the nesting box materials before the girls start to lay again just after the winter solstice.
Sweep out the spiders.
Put down Pestene or Diatomaceous Earth on the bottom of each box BEFORE adding fresh nesting box materials on top (wood shavings, hemp, chopped straw, etc.). These powders will help to keep lice and mites at bay.
May, June, July & August are the big months for cockerel/rooster sales in Australia.
The availability of hens is much lower during this period due to last year’s breeding season now coming into maturity.
Not all roosters are ideal for breeding with, so know your breed standards well before buying/selling to avoid disappointment. Breed standards are available through Poultry Breed Clubs. (Check out the directories in Australasian Poultry Magazine)
Please consult your local council for restrictions on roosters in your area before buying.
Many councils in Australia do not permit roosters due to the noise.
Pre-Order Fertilised Eggs
Wanting to hatch your own chicks this year?
July is usually the month breeders ask for pre-orders on their fertilised poultry eggs as it comes into the hatching season.
After the winter solstice hens begin to lay again if they stopped over autumn/winter. Egg laying tends to resume by mid-July, even though this is the very middle of winter.
Fertile eggs are posted out anywhere from August to December, on average.
This will also prompt you to do a few more things such as ordering heat tables/lamps and brooders, chick starter feed and vaccinations from your vet. (www.brookfieldpoultryequipment.com)
Set up a location for the broody mother to hatch or find a location for incubator hatching and brooding until 8 weeks of age.
Where do you find fertile eggs?
During the wet season, water run off needs to be addressed around the coop and throughout the whole yard so as to keep the coop from being flooded and enough drier areas for the poultry to go.
Maintenance may include:
A problem that can occur when hatching chicks at home is a yolk sack infection. This may also be known as Omphalitis or Mushy Egg Disease.
This is caused by various bacteria during incubation which has gotten into the egg yolk such as E. coli. Staphylococci, Proteus, Clostridia, Facali and Pseudomonas.
This will occur in chicks in their first week of life and is usually terminal. Their life expectancy is usually around 48 hours.
Prevention is the best method.
For more pictures and information on this condition, please check out this amazing article on backyardchickens.com.
Calcium is an essential mineral for all poultry in all stages of their life as part of a balanced diet. If your egg shells haven't improved through providing your hens with shellgrit, yoghurt and apple cider vinegar (ACV), then a liquid calcium supplement may be able to assist. Suitable for all poultry and birds.
Vetsense Avi-CALCIUM contains added Vitamin D3 which helps to aid the absorption of calcium. This supplement is suitable for administering daily to support eggshell strength as well as normal bone development in young hens.
Poultry need to take up at least 4g of calcium per day for optimum health.
Even if the poultry are not laying yet, calcium still needs to be part of their diet.
Chicks should have assess to fine shellgrit while in the brooder or with mother hen. Shellgrit is the best form of calcium for poultry as it also acts as grit for their crop to aid digestion.
A liquid supplement is best used when the results of shellgrit are not enough.
SYMPTOMS OF CALCIUM DEFICIENCY IN POULTRY:
HOW TO USE
Avi-CALCIUM is a complete calcium supplement liquid that is added to the drinking water.
DOSAGE: 4ml to 500ml of clean drinking water per 2kg body-weight
EXAMPLE OF CALCULATION:
Isa Brown hens of 2kg = 4ml of product to 500ml = 8ml per Litre of water
Australorp hens of 3kg = 6ml of product to 500ml = 12ml per Litre of water
Change the water daily - do not let the mix sit for more than 24 hours.
Do not exceed the recommended dose.
Excessive amounts of calcium in a bird's diet can be just as detrimental as too little.
Do not add anything else to their drinking water such as antibiotics or apple cider vinegar while using this supplement in their water source. If antibiotics are needing to be used, simply remove all other supplements for that period.
PERIOD OF USE: Use daily or as needed until health or eggshell quality improves
STORAGE OF PRODUCT: Room temperature below 30ºC
WHERE TO BUY
Retail price ranges between $12-$17.
Coccidiosis is an intestinal disease that is a common illness in chicks that can lead to death if not treated.
Pronounced at ‘cok-sid-E-ow-sis’, also known as Cocci (‘cok-see’).
Coccidiosis comes from protozoa that occurs naturally within the chick’s intestines, multiplies too quickly. Protozoa are basically harmless little creatures in the gut, but if the balance is thrown out, some can cause serious illness. Those protozoa that cause the harm are called Coccidia.
This condition is not transferrable to humans from birds.
HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?
Ground fed birds are likely to be exposed to coccidia throughout their lives. If their immune system is well supported, diet balanced, kept in a clean environment and the hens are not over-crowded, the incidents of coccidiosis are greatly reduced. Stress in the flock, especially through overcrowding is a strong contributor.
In the coccidia life cycle, for each egg that hatches in a bird’s intestines there are a million released through their droppings. Chicks are likely to pick up on coccidian eggs in droppings in their food, water and bedding. This is why food and water must be changed daily. A warm soapy wash of their feeders and drinkers is essential. Litter in the brooder or coop must be regularly changed.
Poultry can build up a natural immunity throughout their life; that is why Coccidiosis is the most common in the young pullets and chicks.
Blood in the droppings is the most obvious sign of Coccidiosis.
In older hens, the bloody stool is most likely to occur in the morning droppings. So checking the coop’s overnight droppings when letting the hens out in the morning is a good habit to get into.
AGE MOST SUSCPETIBLE
Newly hatched chicks are the LEAST likely to have Coccidiosis as the life cycle of coccidia is at least 5 days after it is contracted.
Usually the first signs around be at 10 days or older.
The most common time for Coccidiosis in chicks is around 3 to 6 weeks of age,
with the worst cases occurring at 4 to 5 weeks of age.
If a condition arises within the first 5 days of life, it is most likely to be caused by a yolk sac infection which enters through a wet navel at hatching time. Or bacteria may have developed in the egg during incubation (transmitted through dirty hands or unclean incubator). This can be treated with antibiotics if caught quickly enough.
HOW TO TREAT COCCIDIOSIS
Medicated chick crumble (with coccidiostats) will not be enough to cure an infected chick. Usually, the chick will have a loss of appetite by this stage but will still keep drinking.
This disease is serious and needs to be treated with an anticoccidial in the drinking water.
This medication is appropriate for both chicks and adult laying hens.
All of the flock should be treated together at the same time with the medicated water to prevent further outbreak.
There is an expiry date on these medications, please ensure they are within the date of use.
Both chicks and adult chickens and ducks can suffer from Wry Neck. Also known as Star Gazing or Crook Neck.
Adult poultry are more likely to only suffer Wry Neck due to a bad diet. This condition seems to be more common in chicks due to parents genetics and health.
Remember to isolate your affected bird/s immediately to prevent bullying from the other birds.
What is Wry Neck?
Poultry with the disorder cannot hold their heads up on their own and as it progressively gets worse, affected birds start to fall over or lie on their backs unable to walk freely on their own and appear to walk backwards. With an inability to bend their neck to access food and water, they are likely to starve and become dehydrated, so they need your help.
Wry Neck is a Vitamin E deficiency that can be corrected.
Birds that do not show significant improvements after a period of treatment may need to be culled.
Causes of Wry Neck
Wry Neck can be caused by a number of factors,such as:
Diet is the most probable cause overall. Botulism can be transmitted by a food source that has become moldy after becoming wet. Other toxins may come through other food sources within the yard that are not good for poultry to eat.
Head injuries are most likely to occur due to hen pecking, a fight for the social order.
Does this affect some breeds more than others?
Polish and Silkies are the most prone to Wry Neck, but not exclusive to.
All chicken and duck breeds are susceptible.
A lack of Vitamin E in the birds' diet can lead to Wry Neck. So correcting the imbalance immediately will help with recovery.
Vitamin E should be combined with Selenium to aid absorption.
Vitamin B1 is also recommended.
Yes, crushed vitamin tablets are also acceptable, mixed with water.
Supplement of Vitamin E needs to be given orally to the bird daily.
Do not expect immediate improvement as it takes quite some time to start to seem improvement, but just by a change of feed alone will NOT fix Wry Neck.
Most American poultry forums recommend Polyvisol, however in Australia we do not have access to that liquid vitamin.
Instead we can use Vitamin E liquid capsules combined with a soluble poultry vitamin that contains Selenium such as Fortex Poultry Vitamins (Happy Hens) or similar.
Any vitamin supplement product that lists Sodium Selenite contains Selenium.
If you are unable to locate Selenium in any product, feed the affected bird with cooked mashed up eggs (not seasoned).
Dosage varies from owner to owner. Mixing Vitamin E with a soluble poultry vitamin and a little honey seems to be the best answer.
Amount will depend on age and weight of the bird. Consult your vet for dosage requirements.
Remember only to use an eye dropper amount for newly hatched chicks.
Poultry Forum Confusion
Forums can contain confusing and conflicting information about how much should be administered and whether iron supplements should be withheld or not.
If Molasses is ever recommended, just remember that Molasses is high in Iron and can also cause a flushing out if given too much of. We do not want any vitamins being flushed out right now during treatment.
NEVER give chicks Molasses!
Molasses is ONLY for adult poultry.
Many people recommend omitting iron completely until the affected bird is recovered.
I would err on the side of caution and omit iron if possible.
Prevention is Better than Cure
Foods High in Vitamin E
These foods are only recommended for adult poultry, not for chicks or ducklings:
Spices that contain both Vitamin E and Selenium include:
You will need to assist the bird with eating and drinking, and by the administering of vitamin supplements by eye dropper or small syringe, daily.
A light massage and untwisting of the neck also needs to be performed daily with care to help the neck recover.
Recovery period will take quite some time, often a few weeks in badly affected birds (particularly older chickens).
Chicks may recover quickly.
Keep the affected bird/s isolated during treatment until fully recovered and able to eat and drink unassisted.
A diet varied in food treats from the lists above will help maintain their health.
Not all wood products are alike, and there is a time and place for all of them. A common misconception is the use of timber remnants in and around the chicken and duck coop. So lets take a look at some of the options.
Sawdust is the first timber product that almost everyone thinks of straight away to add to the poultry coop. However, sawdust poses a few problems, which makes this one a No-No!
Sawdust particles are so fine that they can cause respiratory issues for all poultry. The fine dust is also difficult to remove from the coop entirely, so it can also pose a risk to human health. Rule out adding sawdust to either the floor or the nesting boxes.
The wind is also likely to move sawdust around and cause eye problems.
Chicks in the brooder also should not be put on sawdust, not only because they could breath it in, but chicks will EAT sawdust and fill up on that instead of nutritious food. Chicks should be limited to chick crumble and a small amount of fine shellgrit.
Rule out using Sawdust.
Wood shavings are a great choice for both the poultry coop and chick brooder.
While it is still soft, the packaged product from reputable sellers is also dust extracted to reduce dust participles. This will help in keeping down occurrences of respiratory and eye conditions that we associate with sawdust.
There are varying grades of wood shavings amongst brands. The larger is less likely to be eaten by chicks in the brooder while still giving absorbency.
Wood shavings do not blow around as much as sawdust but can still be blown out of the coop.
Using wood shavings in the nesting boxes is ideal.
It helps reduce places for lice and mites to hide, as well, compared to whole straw which are hollow and a great place for them to hang out, undetected.
Using either wood shavings or chopped straw as nesting box material are excellent choices.
Wood shavings can go directly into your compost heap or in the greens bin for easy removal.
When cleaning out from under their roosting area, not all wood shavings need to be cleaned out every time, just scoop out the dropping with a little of the shavings. So simple.
Wood chips are great on the garden path and in around the garden beds by our plants BECAUSE they provide good drainage while helping to keep the weeds down.
When the poultry run becomes very muddy when wet, wood chips are a great choice to help bulk out the soil to reduce the slipperiness.
Combining wood chips with some logs throughout the yard make a great way for the chickens to avoid being on a wet sodden ground over a prolonged period of wet weather, which they need to stay healthy.
The chips are too large for poultry to attempt to eat, usually.
And occasionally you may find eggs laid on it while they are warm and dry.
But do not be tempted to use wood chips as a nesting box material. The chips may prove to be quite abrasive on the egg shells which will cause them to crack, which in turn can encourage egg eating amongst the hens.
What about as a coop flooring?
It works well in the run because the run also has a chance to dry out in the sun, unlike some coops.
It will depend on your coop set-up but it would not be advisable for the small pet shop type of coop.
Wood chips must NOT be made from TREATED PINE as this chemical is not good for animals. So source wood chips from a reputable seller.
Can't find poultry equipment that you need on eBay or in your local fodder store?
Here are three online shops worth visiting.
In most of these stores you will find:
All post nationwide and are based in Australia.
The develop of a chicken's comb and wattle is of great interest to poultry owners for two reasons.
This can be a tricky subject because everything will depend on the BREED.
Whenever anyone sees my Ancona chickens they immediately think they are all roosters because their comb and wattle are so large, but that is their breed type.
So how can we tell?
Time Line of Development
Below are French Wheaten Maran Chicks at 3 weeks of age.
The colouring of the males is different to the females in this breed. But also the leg size indicates a male.
This is not indicative of every breed.
Below are Ancona chicks at 3 weeks of age.
The males are very noticeable. There is no colour difference in feathering, but the wattle and comb is bright red.
Below are Lavender Pekins at 3-4 weeks of age.
The combs on the males are slightly more distinct and redder in most cases.
Notice that the wattles under the chin are also quite bright red.
Before chickens come into point of lay (POL) when they will start their egg laying life, it can become a big guessing game with certain breeds.
Below are purebred Australorp pullets at 7 weeks of age.
The combs and wattles are larger, brighter red and distinct.
Below are French Wheaten Maran pullets at 3 months of age.
The boys have developed a different colour and have very distinct cape development around their neck.
Their tails took a very long time to grow. The saddle feathers on the middle chicken are noticeable now.
Below are Light Sussex pullets possibly 2 to 5 months of age.
This is before any of the boys started crowing.
At 2 months is was very difficult to tell the males from the females.
But by 5 months the boys become very noticeable.
Below are Silver Laced Wyandotte pullets around 3 months of age.
Distinguishing male from female is very difficult to do as their combs and wattles often develop very late.
This can vary. The male chicks can sometimes be more noticeable than the pullets.
The boys usually develop a very red rose comb. It takes time for it to fill out, so it can be a little deceiving.
Below are ISA Brown pullets just before they get to Point of Lay.
I would estimate that they would be 2-3 weeks away from laying their first egg. Maybe she is 15 weeks old.
We can tell by the size of the comb. It is not big enough to indicate maturity.
When a hen starts to lay her first eggs, this is called Point of Lay (POL).
Hybrids like the ISA Brown and utility Australorp (x New Hampshire) start around 18 to 21 weeks of age.
Their combs fill out and become red. Their wattles also start to grow now.
If they were boys, they would show very distinctly at this age.
Other breeds tend to start later.
Many only begin at 6 to 9 months. There are some breeds that do not start until 10 months.
Can you wait that long?
If you buy these late layers at POL, their price increases. They are cheaper to purchase at a much younger age.
Signs of a Rooster (Cockerel)
The exception to these rules do apply to breeds such as Silkies. Their development is unique. Best to determine by comb.
When hatching your own chicks, sometimes things can go wrong but some things can be fixed at home with things you find around your home.
This great tutorial on how to fix a chick's curled toes is such a simple and easy thing to do.
This tutorial comes from Avian Aqua Miser's website. Visit the original page here for full instructions.
Avian Aqua Miser recommends using 3M Transpore Tape for 2-3 days.
Curled toes can result from incorrect incubation, such as the wrong temperature or humidity or wrongly positioned inside the egg.
Curled toes can also be the result of a vitamin deficiency, Add some Solvita (RRP $15) water soluble powder to their drinking water to help correct issues in conjunction with taping the toes open.
To prevent birth defects in chicks, make sure your incubator is running at the correct levels in each stage of the incubator period before hatching day. Use a thermometer and hygrometer to keep track and top up the humidity tray with warm water if needed.
Curled toes in older hens is usually due to a lack of Vitamin B1 or B2 in their earlier stages of development. In those cases, try the Solvita first to see if that will help correct the problem. After a year, many hens may have permanent toe curl issues which may not be able to fully corrected.
The first time a new chicken owner sees one of their hens go broody can send many owners on a frantic hunt to purchase some fertilised eggs to pop under her...even if they never intended to ever go down the path of hatching chicks.
Yes, I'm talking to you, dear chooky owners.
I want to assure you that just because a hen goes broody it does not mean that you HAVE TO give her eggs to hatch.
Chickens that go regularly broody such as Sussex, Wyandottes and Silkies can drive many of us crazy, wondering when they will ever just get on with regular egg laying.
But letting them hatch some chicks will not break their persistent broody habit.
Those chickies will soon be turned out by mama hen by around 9 weeks of age so that mama hen can get some body weight back on...before she goes off on another one of her broody episodes. Well, it may or may not happen so quickly after a hatch, but when you have a very persistent broody, it comes around quick enough.
What sets off a Broody Hen?
First of all, its down to breed and individual personality. Some breeds are highly likely to go regularly broody, whereas other breeds have a long stretch between broody episodes. Other breeds may not show any signs of ever being the broody type.
The outside influences on a hen that can make her become broody include:
When a hen becomes broody, her body temperature rises significantly. She becomes the incubator. So when you pick her up her heat can really be felt radiating from underneath her.
To help 'break' a broody we need to bring down her body temperature over a few days. Keeping her out of a nesting box is essential, so popping her into a fenced off area that is shaded with a cool grassy area is by far the nicest way to help cool her down.
Hens that are not removed from the nesting box will maintain their heat which is a high energy job. This is why we see a broody hen with a trance-like look in their eyes. All their energy is concentrated to keep their heat going. They will come out from time to time for a drink and something to eat, but they return to their nest fast to keep their heat up.
With all this expended energy, the hen will lose a significant amount of body condition. So allowing her to keep sitting without being 'broken' or hatching chicks can result in a very under condition chicken that will be prone to more pests, infections and diseases.
Some owners can be a little too kind to their broody hen and allowed them to stay for a month or more in their nests. Please do not let them sit for that long.
Broodiness takes a lot of energy out of a hen so replacing it with the right nutrition is very important, especially so for the long term broodies that were allowed to sit for too long.
Signs that a hen will go broody
There is one very good indicator that one of your hens is about to become broody: the broody POO!
These droppings are much bigger than a normal one, and they usually occur a few days before you find a girl hunched down in her nest with a mean look in her eye, growling.
If there is another hen who is already acting broody, you may find that the hen that visits her the most is most likely to be the next girl who will go broody.
Yes, broodiness can be 'catchy'.
In the early stages of broodiness, some hens do still lay eggs. But if they go on for too long, she will stop laying for a time.
Her egg laying can be suspended anywhere from one to three weeks. Remember that it takes 21 days to hatch chicks.
If a hen goes for a hatch with fertile eggs she will take longer to get back into an egg laying routine as she will be a busy mum with chicks gathered under her.
BUT I WANT REALLY WANT TO HATCH CHICKS!
OK, dear chooky owner! I hear you.
Chicks are so gorgeous and you have now talked yourself into letting one of your hens go for a hatching.
First - the reality check
Just remember that there is a 50/50 chance of boys and girls in every hatch. Some hatches can produce more of one than the other. Are you prepared for this? Do you have a plan for the boys and room for more girls?
Where to buy
Search online through sites like:
Breeds are important
Make sure that you choose a breed that you would like to have. Lot of research first.
The breed does not need to be the same as your current hens.
Not every breed will suit you, your hens or your yard.
Combining small bantams with large dual purpose hens is often a bad combination. Flighty breeds need higher fencing.
Eggs or Chicks
Yes, you can pop some fertile eggs or newly hatched chicks under a broody hen.
There is a chance of rejection especially of the chicks, so play it by ear and be ready with a back up plan.
Hens can attack and kill the hatching chicks. (From personal experienced, happened twice in one year)
Rejection Back-up Plan
If the broody hen rejects the eggs, have an incubator ready.
If the broody hen rejects the chicks, have a brooder box ready with a heat source, wood shavings, chick crumble food and water.
Not all hens make great mothers, so be prepared.
The chicks NEED A HEAT SOURCE up until 8-9 weeks of age.
Chick Food Source
Chicks will require Chick Crumble from Day 1 as well as fresh clean water every day.
Transition to Pullet Shed
If hatching didn't go well with mother hen and you resorted to using a brooder box, then the chicks will need to be transitioned out to the yard to their own coop - the Pullet House - at 8-9 weeks of age. They will be able to cope with the pecking order around 16-18 weeks of age, so can join the other hens then.
Best of luck!
Please let us know if you tried to 'break' your broody successfully or if you tried for a hatch.
Whether you are hatching your own batch of chicks from eggs in an incubator or you have just bought small chicks they need special care and attention.
This means warmth, bedding (e.g. wood shavings), chick crumble feed only and a water source in an enclosed area.
Chicks need a heat source up until at least 5 weeks of age.
If no appropriate heat source is provided for them, they will die as they will not have their feathers as yet to help regulate their body temperature.
When chicks are with their mother hen in the coop, her body heat alone is sufficient. They crawl up under mother. But by 5 weeks, mother hen will start to ignore her chicks a little more to help them cope on their own. So we need to mimic these conditions inside.
Using a very large cardboard box, wooden crate or pop-up pet tent we can make a great brooder area for the young chicks.
The heat source is often called the Brooder Table, Heat Table, Heating Plate, Heat Lamp.
Radiant heat bulbs that are used for reptile enclosures is one way to keep them warm, but trying to keep it above the chicks in one section can be a little tricky to rig up.
An easier option is to go for adjustable Heat Table. Sizes can vary according to the amount of chicks you have.
My personal favourite and recommendation is: Heatingplate for Chicks from Brookfield Poultry Equipment, QLD
Prices start from $102 + postage.
There are more in the range on their website.
This one is somewhat more affordable than a couple of the other brands on the internet. But they will all do the same job perfectly well.
Remember to adjust the height of the Heat Table every week as the chicks grow a little more.
I have been on a mission to find poultry vaccinations in South Australia since March 2015 since I embarked on my first ever hatching program. So difficult was it that I even went to see my local member of state parliament to ask WHY.
I did have success in securing a batch of Marek's vaccinations which my vet from a country town managed to order in from New South Wales. It was for up to 250 chicks, whereas I had only 6 chicks. To be fair, that was a good size as most vaccinations for poultry comes in an average size of 1,000. I paid around $120 to get that vaccine in via my vet.
On further investigation by my vet she found that Ingham's have the monopoly of vaccinations in the state. Nothing was available in doses under 1,000.
Marek's can keep in the fridge in its rock form for up to only 12 months, so if you are planning on hatching more than one batch in the year, you could carefully split the vaccine for 1,000 with a razor blade. Or do a share plan with others who are also hatching eggs in your local area. This is then mixed with a diluent (carrier fluid) for injection.
Please note that there is an alternative form of Marek's vaccination now available by water droplet form. I am only talking about injectable vaccinations in this post.
If you believe in vaccinating your poultry there are at least four (4) vaccinations that are recommended for chicks:
Scoring one out of four was really disappointing for me, especially with my background in farming. I had no idea how difficult it could be for suburban backyard chicken owners to locate all the right vaccines...and then in time.
Chicks need to be vaccinated between 1 to 3 days of age (depending on the disease) or the vaccines will not be of any effect.
Other vaccinations for chicks include:
Infectious Bronchitis (IB)
Fowl Pox (FP)
Avian Encephalomyelitis (AE)
Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT)
There is no law that insists on vaccinations for poultry in South Australia. Its really about managing the health of your flock to prevent the spread of disease. Many backyard poultry keepers have opted to go down the no-vaccine route and manage their flock by a deep litter method to expose the young chicks and pullets to things in their environment to help build up their immune system.
Once you build up a rapport with your local poultry vet they can be a wonderful source of information about diseases that have been discovered in your local area. Never overlook that relationship as it can save your flock.
As Marek's Disease had been discovered in a southern suburb of Adelaide earlier this year, my vet was very encouraged to search out the vaccine for me and to encourage other poultry owners to do so, likewise.
Never one to be put off I went in search of farming supply stores that might be able to help me in the future with my next hatching. So here is one to add to your list of contacts.
Hills Farm Supplies
12 Light Crescent, Mount Barker
Ph: (08) 8391 4629
Hills Farm Supplies at Mount Barker is worth the trip. Located up behind Mitre 10, they stock a great range of poultry supplies including vaccinations, supplements, pest dusts, worming, leg rings in a range of sizes, feeders and drinkers amongst so much more!
The lovely people at Hills advised me that when purchasing vaccines for poultry that I pre-order prior to hatching and they will order it in.
Having heard on Facebook that they would do smaller batch sizes, I was informed that they do not do that now and only issue batches in 1,000. Make sure you also order a diluent for only $7.95. A diluent is the carrier fluid for mixing the active ingredient of the vaccine with.
Their prices are just around the $100 price mark depending on the vaccine you require.
In comparison to the vaccine I purchased from my vet for 250, these 1,000 lot batches are so affordable and cheaper than what I paid. They really are worthwhile.
I recommend buying this way if you have had some experience with poultry vaccinations beforehand. If in doubt, please ask your vet for full instructions as they will be able to give you a print out on how to mix and administer the vaccine correctly. Storage and time of use are vital to a successful vaccination program. Never start without that information.
Available at the time of my visit for poultry:
Poulvac Mareks "HVT"1000
Poulvac I.L.T./I.B.D. 1000 Diluent
Poulvac Laryngo I.L.T. "SA2"1000
For Coccidiosis - a product off the shelf - Amprolium 200 which retails for around $26.
Added to the drinking water (not as an injection).
For more handy information about vaccinations for poultry, visit: Bosmos.com
I also highly recommend joining poultry groups on Facebook for more information and peer support.
If you know of any other farming supplies store in South Australia that can supply poultry vaccinations, please let me know.
I'd love to share it with everyone.
You can take the girl out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl. As an ex-Barossa gal now living in suburban Adelaide, South Australia, Janine Zschech is not only a serious chicken lady but a genuine advocate for self-sufficiency and education of children to the knowledge of gardening and animal rearing. Skills for life!