Vaccine Information

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate is always the question with small backyard flocks. It is all about risk management. I am a believer of at least vaccinating for Marek’s. If you have chickens go down with Marek’s it is too late to vaccinate. Marek’s needs to be done as day olds, it can be transferred as simply as a bit of feather down on your clothes bought back from a market you visited for the day.

I’m not a vet, but I have been breeding and vaccinating chickens for a long time. So please take below information as my experience using these vaccine’s (not as a qualified vet).

  • If you are buying chickens from Markets adding new birds to your mix regularly, then vaccinating is defiantly the best option.
  • If you are showing your birds, or displaying your birds, mixing with other poultry then again vaccinating is defiantly the best option.
  • If you live near a water course where rats are a problem, then vaccinate. Mice and Rats carry a lot of these diseases.
  • If you keep a few pets or backyard layers not adding birds to them and they don’t come into contact with rodents or outside birds, then the chances of you ever having a problem are slim. But realize if you visit a show or a friend who keeps birds it is always best not to come into contact with your birds till you have showered and changed and put your clothes shoes etc. in the wash.

Way up the risks, as to whether your birds are ever going to come into contact with these diseases before deciding whether you need to vaccinate, but I would suggest when buying new birds ensure they are at least vaccinated for Marek’s.

It is also very important that you only vaccinate well birds. Vaccine is not a medication, it is meant to build immunity to certain diseases. By vaccinating you are asking your birds immune system to build antibodies to certain diseases, so it is important that the bird is healthy to do this.


It is a preventative.


Injected into scruff of neck under skin a mix of vaccine and Diluent as day olds.

To mix, must have vaccine and diluent. 1000 dose of Marek’s mixed with 200ml of diluent gives you a 0.2ml dose of Marek’s vaccine for each chick. 0.2mls is minimum dose size mix you would do. You may add 500 doses of Marek’s to 200mls of diluent and give a 0.4ml dose or 500 doses to 100mls of diluent for a 0.2ml dose per bird.  Etc… Just adjust mix to suit amount of birds to vaccinate.

Once mixed with diluent aim to use all mixed vaccine within a couple hours of mixing also important to keep vaccine cold during vaccinating process.

Marek’s vaccine comes in a couple forms. You may get freeze dried vaccine which is stored in the fridge, which some people with small numbers of chicks hatching divide (not recommended by phamacial companies that produce the vaccine, you would have to be so careful to keep vaccine uncontaminated and cold during process also over vaccinate to allow for uneven mix. but other option is to mix 1000 doses and throw away unused portion after two hours). Or liquid nitrogen Japanese vails of vaccine that requires a liquid nitrogen tank to store vaccine in once removed from liquid nitrogen, must be mixed and used with two hours.

Diluent is stored in fridge.

IB (Infectious Bronchitis)

May be given same time as Marek’s at day old by eye drop or thru water, but you need a carrier in water powdered milk in rain water(not chlorinated water it kills vaccine).

You may give IB vaccine to any age chickens. Older birds can have eye drop or thru water mixed with powdered milk.

As your chicks grow you can give them a ramp up dose eg. Day old then another dose at 6 weeks.

IB vaccine is stored in the freezer. Eye drop diluent is stored in fridge.


Is administered from 6 weeks onwards. It is a course of two injections. 0.5mls injected. Then one month later a second injection of 0.5mls. You may then give a yearly booster if required.(find chest muscle is easiest place to administer just find highest point on keel bone and come out a cm or so to the side into the breast muscle)

You can vaccinate for Coryza at any age after 6 weeks old, so can do your older birds at same time as your young stock.

This vaccine is kept in fridge and can be drawn off bottle using clean syringe as required. Taking care to seal and not contaminate remaining contents of bottle keeping it cold the entire time.

Fowl Cholera

This can be administered from 6 weeks onwards. It is also a course of two injections. 0.5ml injected. Then one month later a second injection of 0.5mls. You may then give a yearly booster if required.

DO NOT inject birds with Coryza vaccine at same time. Put some time between courses of vaccine.

This vaccine is also kept in the fridge and you can draw off required amount as needed. Taking care not to contaminate unused vaccine and keeping it cold the entire time. Using fresh needles etc. each time you draw up vaccine.

Fowl Pox

Is a two bottles that you mix. Vaccine kept in freezer. Diluent kept in fridge plus a wing stabber.

This vaccine is applied by breaking skin with stabber after dipping it in vaccine, stabbing thru webbing of the wing.

Vaccine must be kept cold thru the process. This is a live vaccine, so all birds must be either immune to or vaccinated for Fowl Pox on the same day that are in contact with newly vaccinated chickens.

6 to 8 days after vaccinating you will see a scab at vaccination point on your chickens that will indicate that vaccine has taken. If you do not see this scab, your birds were either already immune to fowl pox or something has gone wrong with your vaccinating process. You want your birds to be at least 6 weeks old when vaccinating for fowl pox in this method.