Spray vaccination is the preferred method for administering respiratory vaccines, e.g. for Newcastle Disease (ND) or Infectious Bronchitis (IB), especially when vaccinating birds for the first time. Spray vaccination can be undertaken either in the hatchery or immediately after reception at the farm, while the chicks are still in boxes. Vaccinating in the hatchery is generally considered more effective, as the process is automated and therefore more controlled than the hand-spraying that tends to occur on the farm. Hatchery automated methods include either the use of a spray cabinet that is triggered each time a box of chicks is placed inside, or a spray vaccinator mounted over the conveyor line for chick boxes.
Vaccines suitable for spray delivery are live vaccines, produced by growing the required virus in incubated eggs or tissues cultures. After attenuation (= weakening), the viruses are freeze-dried and appear as a pellet in a glass vial containing 1,000 to 10,000 doses. This allows the vaccines to be stored under controlled conditions for several months until expiry date. Prior to use, the vaccine is dissolved in water, after which it expires within hours and therefore must be used immediately. The water serves as a transport medium for the live virus to the day-old-chicks. Once sprayed, the vaccine will attach to the mucosa cells of the chicks’ eyes and upper respiratory tract. Preening (= cleaning feathers with beak) optimises uptake. Once in the body, the virus will multiply inside the mucosal cells, to develop good local immunity in the respiratory tract.
Vaccination in backyard poultry can be somewhat confusing and challenging. There are many vaccines that are available for commercial poultry that are contra-indicated in backyard poultry. For example, live vaccines against Infectious Bronchitis (IB) and Infectious Lagyngotracheitis (ILT) can have the capability to “revert to virulence” and cause an outbreak of disease that can spread beyond the vaccinated flock. In addition, the potential for new variants can result from “reassortants” between wild-type and vaccine strains making it even more difficult to treat affected poultry. (Reassortment is the mixing of the genetic material of a species into new combinations in different individuals.)
For these reasons, most poultry experts only recommend that backyard poultry enthusiasts vaccinate against the following (in order of importance, based on the prevalence of disease in backyard flocks):
1. Vaccination against Marek’s Disease
(either given in ovo or at 1-day of age post hatch)
2. Newcastle Disease
(18 days of age and then 6 weeks of age)
3. Vaccination against Dry Pox (4 weeks of age)
Features of Vaccine For Day Old Chicks
- If a vaccine is mishandled or improperly used, it may result in vaccination failure. All vaccines are labeled with instructions for use and expiration dates. If the entire flock is not vaccinated properly, the disease may spread.
- Newly hatched chicks have some passive immunity passed from the mother through the egg. Vaccination of chicks at less than 10 days of age often does not produce uniform or lasting immunity. An exception is the vaccination for Marek’s disease, which is ordinarily given on the day of hatch.
- Rotate vaccine stock, as vaccines can deteriorate over time. Vaccines come with a date of expiration. Any outdated product should be discarded.
- Each vaccine is designed for a specific route of administration. Use only the recommended route.
- Do not vaccinate sick birds (except in outbreaks of laryngotracheitis or fowl pox).
- Protect vaccines from heat and direct sunlight.
- Most vaccines are living, disease-producing agents. Handle them with care.
- When using the drinking-water method of vaccination, be sure the water is free of sanitizers and chlorine. Live-virus vaccines are readily destroyed by these chemicals.
- After vaccinating, burn or disinfect all opened containers to prevent accidental spread to other poultry.
Prices of Vaccine For Day Old Chicks
$12.45 – $60.99