Our clinic has seen a a number of backyard chickens with Marek’s disease. Signs of Marek’s disease in younger chickens include paralysis of legs and wings (limping, droopy wings, chickens unable to move), and in older birds we can see inappetence, weight loss, going off the lay and sometimes tumours. Unfortunately, once the bird is showing signs, there is little we can do.
Marek’s disease is caused by a virus, and this virus is everywhere! If you have chickens, you must assume they have been exposed to this disease.
Prevention is better than cure, and chickens can be protected from Marek’s disease by vaccination, but the vaccine must be given within the first three days of life. If you are buying point of lay pullets, ask the vendor whether they have been vaccinated.
If you are buying day-old chicks, contact us at myvet Strathfieldsaye as we have a supply of Rispens vaccine we can administer to your chick before it is three days old.