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How your birds’ vaccination diary should look

By Dr Watson Messo
Veterinarian giving medical treatment to a chick.

Are you keeping five or 5,000 chicks? Are they exotic or indigenous birds? For meat or for eggs, no matter the type and purpose, you should always ensure your birds are vaccinated against the most probable diseases within your locality.

The history of vaccination spans over 200 years to date and ranks as the most cost-effective health achievement of all modern times. Vaccination is by far an effective, convenient and easy to administer health intervention that protects animals and humans against many infectious diseases.

Currently, the most important diseases that require flock immunisation are Mareks disease, Infectious Bronchitis, Newcastle disease, Gumboro, fowl pox and fowl typhoid. Mareks disease vaccine is given at day-old in the hatchery, while the rest can be given in the farm with close supervision of a Veterinarian or Para-veterinarian as the law states. It is extremely important that a farmer seeks to know from your Vet or chick supplier the most recent vaccination programme for your type of flock.

Broilers chicks

These chicks are vaccinated at the hatchery against Gumboro disease (IBD), Infectious Bronchitis (IB) and Newcastle disease (NCD). A repeat booster Newcastle and Infectious Bronchitis is given at day 12-14 through eye-drop or drinking water technique. Not all hatcheries carry out these vaccinations, it is therefore prudent that farmers enquire with their chick supplier on all aspects of hatchery vaccinations and any need for a booster vaccination at the farm.

Layer chicks and slow-growing improved Kienyeji

These types of birds leave the hatchery fully vaccinated against Mareks disease, additionally, in major hatcheries, these chicks also get vaccinated against Newcastle, Infectious Bronchitis and Gumboro disease. At the farm level, farmers through the guidance of registered Veterinarian will then do booster NCD+IB at 7-10 days, 24 days, 35 days and every three months, IBD at 16-18 days. Fowl Typhoid at 6-8 weeks of age through muscle injection and Fowl pox at 10 weeks of age as a wing stab.

All vaccinations done at the hatcheries or farms by law must be administered by a qualified Vet or Paravet or if done by experienced farmer must be supervised by the qualified Vets. This caution is very important in ensuring that the vaccines are handled carefully, administered correctly to ensure that the birds once vaccinated develop appropriate immunity against the infectious diseases.

Advantages of hatchery vaccination

·The vaccine is handled by a few people that are well trained and monitored. It is much easier to control five workers in a hatchery than 70 farmers spread across a wide area. Vaccine preparation is strictly done and monitored by a quality control team.

· Vaccine is precisely administered in the hatchery, use of blue dye ensure that vaccine lands where it is required. The equipment has a counting system and no chick will pass without vaccination. Once vaccine is prepared it is used in exactly 1-2 hours to avoid loss of potency.

· It is also easier to make sure the cold chain recommended for storage of the vaccines from the producer to the end-user is respected in the hatchery compared to the farm setup.

· The chickens are kept in boxes, which make it much easier to manipulate than when they are spread all over a poultry house. Vaccination cover is 100 per cent in the hatchery compared to 70-80 per cent in the farm. It reduces stress on the birds in the farm and ensures early and improved disease resistance/immunity.

· Sophisticated and consequently expensive equipment is more affordable for a big structure like a hatchery than for a poultry farm. Also, equipment can be better monitored and better maintained in the hatchery than on the farm. Vaccine application becomes more effective. The farmer has more time left to look after the vaccinated birds instead of bothering on vaccination.

· Spray vaccination, which is the best method for administration of respiratory vaccines like ND or IB, is much easier to apply and consequently more efficacious when given in the hatchery than when applied on the farm. This vaccination requires dust-free environment for effective immunisation. The farmer will only do one single NCD+IB disease vaccination in the Broiler farm on day 14 instead of two vaccinations as done previously. This will reduce stress to the birds, reduce the use of vitamins before and after vaccination, reduce post-vaccination reactions and the cost of treatment.

· Better growth rates have been observed in hatchery vaccinated flocks.

· Low mortality in the event of disease outbreak.

 Vaccinate your birds as per the programme and ensure they are protected from disease-causing organisms.

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