Vaccination is supposed to prevent chickens from diseases but not when it is done the wrong way. In this article, I will be sharing some of the reasons why vaccines may kill your chickens before diseases come. But first, it is important that I share with you an insight about what a vaccine is. Vaccines are live, killed or attenuated (weakened) form of a disease-causing organism (pathogen) that are administered to animals to sensitize them and prepare them for the naturally-occurring disease pathogen in its active form.
When a chicken’s immune system notices a vaccine (antigen), the antibodies try to fight this weakened organism. Because of the weakened state of the organism, it is easy for the chicken to overcome. And therefore, the chicken is prepared for the stronger organism if encountered later in life. It is the predisposition to the organism that prepares the chickens, and this is the whole essence of vaccination.
Vaccination Errors That Will Kill Your Chickens
Having established what a vaccine is and why it is administered, let’s get talking about the common errors that farmers make in vaccinating their chickens.
1. Vaccinating Sick or Stressed Chickens:
Vaccinating sick birds is like adding to the sickness. When a chicken is sick, the immune system is compromised. At such times, vaccines will only do more harm – instead of preventing the disease. What happens when you vaccinate a sick bird is that, the weakened organism that is introduced into the chicken’s body is now able to cause the disease. Also, stressed chickens have decreased number of lymphocyte. In case you don’t know, lymphocyte is considered as the factory of antibodies. And antibodies play an important role in your chickens’ immune response.
2. Using Vaccines as Drugs:
This is demonstrated in poultry farming when a farmer decides to repeat a vaccine without a proper guide. In most cases, they have the thought that repeating the vaccine will increase the chances of its effectiveness. Some even multiply the doses per vaccination exercise. Well, there are instances where vaccines should be repeated but only at safe intervals. This should be according to manufacturer’s prescription and not just because you think you need to add an extra dose. Some farmers also treat symptoms of viral diseases with vaccines. All these need to be checked.
3. Poor Vaccine Administration:
This involves the management issues that may break a vaccination exercise. For instance, if proper monitoring is not done and some birds don’t have access to the vaccine, this might lead to a serious outbreak in the future. In such cases, un-vaccinated birds pose a challenge to the vaccinated ones and the farmer’s profit.
4. Poor Storage of Vaccines:
Poultry vaccines are usually kept in a cold chain. That is, from the point of manufacture to the point of use, they need to be kept in cold storage. Poor storage will therefore render such vaccines useless, and even if administered, no vaccination has taken place. As a poultry farmer, it is important that you place value on the source of the vaccines used. Only buy vaccines from reputable places that are trusted to have kept all the requirements to keep the vaccines potent.
Poor storage may also be due to freezer breakdown, personnel carelessness or transportation issues. The bad thing about vaccine failure is that it often goes unnoticed. That is, the farmer believes that all the chickens have been vaccinated until symptoms of the disease they were vaccinated for begins to surface. Protect your investment by taking that extra precaution.
5. Use of Poor Quality Water:
As we should already know, water is the diluent used for most vaccines. The use of water with high concentration of salt or chlorine will render vaccines impotent. This implies that you must be sure of the composition of the water used for vaccination. More on vaccination and water quality can be found here.
As important as it is to vaccinate your chickens to prevent them from diseases, it is more important to do it right. I hope that this article has been able to point you in the right directed as regards vaccination and the danger of not doing it appropriately.
Have you read my article on Organic Poultry Production: Common Herbs For Every Disease?