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Vaccinating chicks against Mareks
By Sue @ The Cuckoo Poultry Stud
This article is only here as the Stud vaccinates all chicks, as such this and the previous article about the disease are included on this site
# This is only my personal experience and only to be used as a guide – information given is using the vaccine The Stud uses (Poulvac HVT Vaccine) - I have no 1st hand knowledge of other vaccines.
This article only advises regards vaccine available in Australia; please contact your countries supplier for details of vaccines available to you, the reader.
The Vaccine -
Mareks HVT CF vaccine (Serotype 3, Live Marek's Disease Virus) - dry 'pad'/(tablet shaped) with Diluent as the liquid media for injection, the Diluent is the liquid media that must be used for the vaccine to be effective
All instruments should be as clean as possible run under boiled water at the least but preferably sterile
Have a timer with you – set it when you first put the pad/tablet section in the Diluent = you have ONE HOUR ONLY from that moment before it becomes inactive and you need to make more.
For 250 chicks (given time you can easily judge smaller amounts for less chicks)
Preparing the vaccine -
The Diluent is usually supplied in a 200ml bottle (I keep it in the butter section of the fridge here due to the extremes in temperatures day to day, but this is not necessary). The pad/tablet must be stored in the fridge, between 2 and 8 degrees Celcius, my fridge is set at 3-4 degrees Celcius.
Remove the container you are working with from the fridge only as needed and return to the fridge immediately upon use and
In a clean (sterile) glass container place ¼ (50mls) of the bottle of Diluent. Quickly re-seal the bottle using the rubber stopper that was in it and cover the top with 4 layers of Clingwrap and seal tightly with a rubber band. Return the re-sealed Diluent container to the fridge.
Allow the Diluent to naturally come to room temperature. This is important, as the pad/tablet must be mixed into the liquid at
room temperature, 18-24 degrees Celcius. This is essential.
Once it has reached room temperature =
Remove the pad/tablet from the fridge and carefully but quickly using a sharp razor blade (the old style) cut the pad/tablet in ¼s and place ¼ in the Diluent. Then place the other pieces IN the original container. Do this quickly and then re-seal the container with the stopper that came with it then cover with Clingwrap the same as the Diluent. Return the re-sealed container to the fridge. Do not worry if the pad/tablet does not cut evenly just cut it as best as possible into ¼s, it usually will cut evenly if you use a sharp razor blade.
Gently ‘swirl’ the container holding the Diluent and the pad/tablet section to mix. Then place the bottle holding the Diluent Vaccine mix in an ice bath or a chilled insulated holder. Once the Vaccine is mixed with the Diluent it needs to be chilled down to refridgerator temperature and kept there while vaccinating the hatchlings. Make sure that the mix is swirled regularly throughout the vaccination process until all chicks are done
# note that the Diluent and tablet are viable (remainder able to be used) for one month after opening if sealed well and stored correctly in the fridge
* the Diluent however will cloud and change colour if it is contaminated and goes off sooner and will need to be replaced if this happens – non sterile needles and/or contact with air speeds up the process of ‘going off’ – the pad/tablet will go moist if not sealed correctly and it would then need to be replaced DO NOT USE DRY PACKS as they bring moisture to the pad/tablet!!!!
To vaccinate -
Hold each chick individually so they are held firmly but comfortably in one hand (for you that is, they will quickly forget the experience) then inject 0.2ml of the solution JUST UNDER the skin down the side or back of the neck almost running along the skin before injection – be very careful to ensure it is only under the skin and not into muscle – if needed wet the fluff / down / fuzz first so you can easily see the skin, however wetting is not normally necessary.
Be careful not to push the needle out the other side as obviously you will not vaccinate the chick - however ensure the needle goes in far enough that no liquid comes back out via the injection site as it is injected – if so = re-vaccinate the bird.
Place the bird under heat to recover – word of advise – take the chicks from one ‘box / brooder / incubator’ and place in another one or you will potentially be vaccinating the same chick several times!
Expect to make mistakes until you find the best way to handle the chicks to do the injections.
Also note that there are a number of forms of Mareks and the vaccine covers only 1 – but is believed it can help give protection for other forms and is widely recommended.
# subject to copyright laws of Australia