Vaccination is a must for any poultry farm that wants to succeed – whether commercial or small-scale/backyard. It must be done in a timely manner (depending on the vaccine and type of bird) to prevent and control disease transmission. Vaccines act by imitating natural infection and building up immunity of the birds to the infectious disease without any of the harmful effects. This way, disease prevention is almost certain in your poultry farm especially if all other biosecurity measures are taken. Vaccination is quite cheap and vaccines must strictly be stored appropriately because it is very easily destroyed. Improper storage may cause the vaccine to lose its efficacy quickly, thereby becoming useless and might even cause the same disease you are trying to prevent in your poultry farm. Also, it is highly advisable to use the right and effective route of vaccine administration, whether oral (water) or via injections. And as a lot of vaccines are administered to young chicks (e.g, Mareck’s disease vaccine for day old chicks), it is important to use the correct vaccination technique because young chicks are small and fragile and can easily be injured/killed by an inexperienced vaccinator.
Some common diseases that are routinely vaccinated against in poultry farms in Nigeria include Mareks Disease, Infectious Bronchitis (IB), Infectious Bursal disease, E. Coli, Newcastle etc. If you have a respiratory disease on your farm (such as Infectious Bronchitis , Laryngotracheitis, Mycoplasma infection) you should carry out a serological test to be sure of which specific disease is involved, so you can vaccinate against the correct one. (Contact your vet for more information). Salmonella vaccination is also possible, but if you maintain good hygiene you might not need the vaccination. However it is important to note that the vaccination only protects your birds against S. Enteritidis and S. Typhimurium and as such your birds have the potential to pick up other Salmonella species.
You should note again that vaccination might not be 100% effective and you must maintain good hygiene and biosecurity to aid your efforts at protecting your birds from disease through vaccination.
Important Tips for vaccinating your birds
- Do not add vaccine to chlorinated water without using skimmed milk (powdered milk) or protective dye
- Ensure the area and containers where you mix and dispense the vaccine is clean
- Do not contaminate the vaccine with disinfectants
- For vaccination that is administered orally, do not withdraw the water for too long; one and a half hours is recommended. Also, ensure the birds all have water containing vaccines at the same time
- In general, if you are buying or selling a lot of birds it is important you do serological examination of the flock. This way, you would know if the animals have been previously protected and what diseases are still present in the flock that you have to vaccinate against.
- Always buy vaccines from reliable veterinary sources.
So, just in case you are confused about what vaccines to give to your birds, when to give the vaccines and how to give the vaccines; next week we will provide a standard vaccine schedule suitable for poultry farms, (broilers, breeders and layer birds) in Nigeria.