These can be a nightmare to all of us and especially to the person starting out with poultry. There are so many vaccines available, they all seem to have complicated names and they are all administered in a different way. Enough to make you run screaming down the road!
Firstly let me state that vaccines are there to help you, and they are there to SUPPORT the immune system of your birds. They are not miracle cures for everything that goes, neither do they completely cover the birds against every illness.
Vaccines such as Newcastle for example, cover the birds for that particular virus, but unfortunately there are many strains of Newcastle, and you cannot vaccinate against them all. You can only insure your bird against the most virulent strains, those prevalent in your country and your area. By doing this and keeping the birds clean and well fed, you will prevent disaster, and the birds may even contract some type of Newcastle but they have now a better chance of surviving that illness because of the vaccine.
The vaccines I have used in the past have been specifically for my type of operation, that is show poultry and a multiple stage operation that ranges from egg to adult. Not every farm is the same and if you are running a laying operation or a broiler farm please consult your veterinary supplier or the local state vet to confirm which vaccines you need. It depends also on the area, the local prevalent diseases, the climate, and the size and type of operation you have: You may for example be doing broilers but restricted to 100 at a time. In that case the vaccines I speak about here may well be sufficient. If however your operation is one of 30,000 birds, consult the vet suppliers:
IMMUNOVET: 9-11 KYA SAND, SUITE 355, P.BAG X7 KYA SAND RAND 2163 SA.
TEL:011 699 6240
PMB: 99 VICTORIA ST PMB.
TEL: 033 345 5679
CAPE TOWN N0 1 HYGRO INDUSTRIAL PARK, FOURIE ST, BRACKENFELL, CAPE TOWN.
TEL: 021 982 2652
INERT VACCINES: these are usually oil based injectible vaccines that you can purchase in a 500ml bottle. The dosage is usually 0.5 ml injected under the skin, so a bottle does 1000 doses. You can keep this in the fridge until you use.
LIVE VACCINES: These are freeze dried live vaccines which are extremely sensitive to light, and heat. They must be stored at a temperature not exceeding 8 degrees C. You cannot break the cold chain with these. All the vaccine must be used at once as it will not keep. Make sure you buy from a reputable dealer who can be trusted not to break the cold chain.
The cold chain is a term meaning the vaccine must be taken from cold storage to cold storage, and during transport must be stored in a cooler with temperatures not raising above 8degreesC nor falling below freezing.
WATER BASED VACCINES:
These are LIVE vaccines you mix with water and let the birds drink. Mix in a 10litre bucket with 2 tablespoons fat free milk powder to stabilise the vaccine. Use water without chlorine if possible or allow the water to stand in light for an hour, this kills chlorine. Do not use a bucket that has contained any soap or disinfectant. Make sure birds are without water for at least 2 hours before administering. Do not leave the drinker with the vaccine longer than 12 hours. Remove and provide clean water.
If you are vaccinating a large broiler flock, you can use the ten litre bucket and then transfer some of this mixture to other buckets containing fresh water, so that all birds have sufficient access to the vaccine. You can dilute in this way as these vaccines are very potent.
This is the small triangular membrane you will see when you open the inside of the wing. On the underside of the wing, it is situated between the primary and secondary feathers, close to the shoulder of the bird. There are very few blood vessels in the membrane. Your pox vaccines comes with a 2 pronged fork and a bottle of diluent. Add the freeze dried pellett to the diluent and shake well. Dip the fork in the solution and pierce the skin RIGHT THROUGH the wing. Dip for every bird. Discard any unused solution.
You can administer the Newcastle and IB vaccine with a dropper. Two drops in the corner of the eye or the nostril. I prefer the nostril as vaccines can discolour the eyes.
Supplied with the vaccine is a small bottle of blue died diluent. Also supplied are plastic fittings called boys and girls, which you place on top of the diluent to make a dropper bottle.
You need to remove the foil from the freeze dried capsule, insert the plastic fitting which will have two sides, and insert the other side into the top of the diluent bottle. Shake well until all the vaccine is mixed in and remove the plastic fitting.
Replace with the dropper fitting. Use all the vaccine and any unused must be discarded.
You can also use a sprayer. Chase all the birds into a corner of the shed and spray in the face of the birds. Birds will lick the vaccine off each other. You must use a sprayer that has a fine mist setting. Spray first with the finest setting then change to a slightly larger setting and spray again. That way birds will preen and take in the larger droplets, while the mist will hopefully go up the nostrils and into the eyes!
Although a common practice with broilers where there are thousands of birds to vaccinate at any one time, I never use this method on my show birds as it stresses them, and I never know if every bird has had a sufficient dose of vaccine. After all a broiler only lives a maximum of 12 weeks, a show bird can go on for 12 years!
Pull up 0.5ml of the solution into a small syringe, 20guage 1/4 inch needle and a 2ml syringe. These are usually inert vaccines, although Mareks is injectible and is a live vaccine, I think it is the exception.
Mareks is for newborns so only 0,2ml is injected at one time. Read the instructions carefully always.
For MAREKS I use a 24 guage needle and a tuberculin one ml syringe as you do not want to stress the day old chicks.
Pull up a small amount of skin on the neck or between the shoulder blades of the chick. Inject under the skin. if you need to administer a booster on adult birds, try to inject in the neck, pull up a small fold of skin and slip the needle in under the skin. Rub well to avoid any bruising or swelling at the injection site, as this can lead to abscesses.
the poultry site
Most vaccines are to be injected subcutaneously, which means taking a small fold of skin and placing the needle just under the skin before depressing the plunger.
Some medications require intramuscular injection, which means placing the needle straight down into the thick muscle usually on either side of the keel, (breast bone). You can also inject in the top of the thigh though this can cause lameness.
Intravenous injections are rare in birds and should be done by qualified vets. If you need to do this look for the thick vein inside the wing web and inject into this vein. Pull back on the syringe to make sure you have blood and are in fact in the vein and depress the plunger.
Vaccines are not a cure-all. They are a type of insurance you take out to help the immune system of the bird survive strong field challenges.
They cannot work if you do not follow the instructions to the letter, and they cannot work if you do more than one vaccine a day!
The immune system of your bird is a delicate balance which you are trying to maintain. To overwhelm the immune system with two or three different vaccines at once cancels them all out and the bird either dies, or is left with no immunity at all since it is then trying to survive the onslaught of different pathogens in its system.
It also helps if you give electrolytes in the water on the day you vaccinate or the day after, just to give extra protection to the chicks. Vaccination is hard on them and should not be handled by uninformed staff who will rush and injure the chicks. This is especially true of the Mareks vaccine at day old. Make sure your chicks are transferred immediately to a brooder with a warm lamp, as I have found the babies get very cold from the shock of the injection. If you handle them gently and make sure they are warm afterwards you will not lose a single one.
The way a vaccine works is the same as in humans: It introduces a small amount of the virus or bacteria you are vaccinating for ( for example Coryza), as a means to boosting the immune system of the bird to build up antibodies to that illness. If done correctly the system builds up sufficient antibodies so that when faced with a Coryza outbreak, the bird is then “immune” to that strain of the illness you have vaccinated for.
This is not fool proof and does not always work but it is better than not having a vaccine at all and losing all the birds at once or spending a fortune on antibiotics which weaken the immune system instead of strengthening it.
Wait seven days before doing the next vaccine. Some vaccines work in tandem with each other : example: Newcastle and IB, but always consult a professional if you are unsure . I stay away from multipurpose vaccines as a whole as I feel they do not target the viruses sufficiently thoroughly. I know one can purchase an IB/ND/IBD combination vaccine but I feel that IBD needs to be done on its own to provide better immunity. Simply a personal choice.
It is a good idea to use vaccines that target the same vaccine in different applications to give better immunity. For example: Newcastle and Infectious Bronchitis are usually paired together in live vaccine forms (IB/ND HITCHNER, and IB/ND La Sota) and these can be administered in a dropper or in drinking water. So I do the first one the Hitchner in drinking water and the second La Sota as an eye dropper. I also inject the inert vaccine at 5 weeks, IB/ND Talovac 201. This way by the time the chicks are five weeks old they have received three doses of the vaccine via different routes. They are well covered.
There is a template on this site that gives you a rough guide as to what vaccine to use when.