This is a question often asked and depending upon whom you talk to, would often be met with mixed opinion. There are those that believe selective breeding for resistance is the answer and others that see no other option other than to vaccinate. My personal view sits somewhere in the middle with a belief that selective breeding is very important but vaccination of certain poultry diseases a must do.
It is my opinion that all fowl should be vaccinated for Mareks disease as this is very common and can be attributed to so much loss in poultry breeding. Mareks comes in several forms and is almost certain to affect your young flock at sometime. Many older breeders who were against vaccination, report years of being Mareks free only to have their flock nearly wiped out in a season of Mareks. There has been a large shift in attitude amongst breeders, with almost all top breeders now vaccinating against Mareks.
The Mareks vaccine comes in 1000 unit dosages which does represent a problem for the smaller breeder with many people now opting to share dosages with fellow fanciers.
A big problem faced by poultry exhibitors is the exposure of ones birds to outside birds when attending a show. With each exhibitor adopting a different approach to disease control and throw in the fact that the judge goes from one pen to the next handling every bird, it is really a case of Russian Roulette with disease spreading. This being said, in most cases problems are rare. However as other fanciers may be vaccinating for diseases that you have not vaccinated your birds for, this effectively makes their birds carriers. For example someone may have vaccinated for ILT (Infectious Laryngotracheitis) but you have not. Hence, their bird has the potential to infect your birds. Up until now this has not been a problem but as breeders, we must be vigilant at all times with our biosecurity.
Fowl Pox still remains a very common problem with poultry particularly in high mosquito areas. Some breeders have managed to breed resistance into their flocks and others reporting no further problems for many years after an initial outbreak. It certainly seems to come in cycles and it would be advisable to vaccinate if you are in heavy mosquito area. The procedure being an easy one, with a simple wing stab through the webbing of the wing.
It should be noted that the practice of good clean husbandry goes a long way to disease control in your flock but some things just cannot be avoided. There is one thing for sure: the costs associated with vaccination far outweighs the potential losses from disease.
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