The A to Z of vaccination from day to month-olds

Poultry farming in Diani, Kwale. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Dear Dr Messo, I bought chicks from a Mombasa outlet through my feed supplier on February 6 this year. My supplier advised that the chicks come vaccinated against Mareks, Gumboro and Newcastle disease and I only need to administer Newcastle at 2 weeks. Two weeks after purchase I administered the Newcastle vaccination. Now as a chicken farmer, I have always reared the local kienyeji chicken and this is my first time to stock improved kienyeji. As I chose improved Kienyeji, kindly guide me through the vaccination process. My chicks are now 17 days and I have only administered Newcastle vaccine. Selpha.

Dear Selpha, Vaccination is a critical and most important procedure in any livestock production system. Just like in human beings, chickens also need to be vaccinated using different types of vaccines and at different times of their lives depending on the geographical area, the prevailing disease pressure and the type of bird you are keeping. In Kenya, handling and administration of vaccines are controlled by an Act of Parliament and this function is bestowed on registered veterinary and or Para veterinary professionals. The following is a guide on diseases controlled by vaccination and what you need to know when you seek this service from your local veterinary professional for this type of improved kienyeji birds that you are rearing for extended period.

  1. Hatchery vaccinations (Day 1)

Some hatcheries and not all, vaccinate day-old chicks against specific diseases like Mareks, Newcastle (NCD), Gumboro (IBD) and Infectious bronchitis (IB). The less advanced hatcheries will only vaccinate against Mareks and ignore the rest of the diseases. It is important that you are assured of the complete vaccination against the 4 diseases mentioned and if possible, a vaccination certificate signed and endorsed by your chick supplier. This was done for your flock of chicks at take-off in the hatchery.

  1. Day 12-14

At this age your birds which had been earlier primed on NCD+ IB at day 1, will require a booster of the same through eye drop application, spray or drinking water. This vaccine comes as a combination of both NCD+IB, ensure the chicks are healthy before vaccinating, never vaccinate sick birds.

  1. Day 16-18

This is the time to give Gumboro vaccines to these slow growing birds through drinking water. This is recommended because of the high pressure of this disease in this part of the world. It is now becoming common practice to ensure that your flocks get Gumboro at the hatchery and a second dose at the farm just to make sure that protection is 100 per cent covered and birds fully immunised.

  1. Week 6-8

Between this period, it is good to give a long lasting NCD vaccine applied through injection like Itanew or Nective Forte through intramuscular route. If your vet cannot get this vaccine, a live NCD+IB can be given through drinking water now and thereafter every 3 months. Fowl typhoid vaccine should also be administered two weeks apart through subcutaneous injection.

  1. Week 8-10

The birds will be due for Fowl pox vaccination done through wing stab. This disease has previously been completely controlled but is re-emerging because farmers have recently ignored vaccination. I have seen clinical cases of Fowl pox in young chicks whose parents missed this vaccination. Fowl cholera can also be administered in high prevalent areas as advised by your vet.

  1. Week 12-14

A second dose of Fowl typhoid is recommended at this stage administered through intramuscular or subcutaneous injection depending on the type of vaccine in the market. This is done to protect birds against the disease and to ensure the eggs coming from these birds are safe for human consumption.

In conclusion, the pattern of poultry diseases is constantly changing, and vaccination programs will evolve. It is not possible to stick to hard recommendation and as disease patterns change so shall the program depending on the local disease pressure. After every vaccination, provide multivitamins for three days to help reduce post vaccination reactions.

[For more information contact Dr Watson Messo Odwako on [email protected] or [email protected]]

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