Marek’s disease is one of the most widespread poultry diseases in the world. The first report of the disease was in 1907 by József Marek, for whom the disease is named. It is a highly contagious viral disease caused by a herpes virus called Alphaherpesvirinae.
Marek’s disease can occur in chickens 3 to 4 weeks of age but is most commonly seen in birds between 12 and 30 weeks of age. Female birds are more often affected than are males.
Transmission of the virus occurs by direct and indirect contact between chickens. Once the virus is introduced into a chicken flock, infection spreads quickly from bird to bird, even if the chickens are vaccinated. Seemingly healthy birds may be infected and, if so, will regularly shed the virus into the surrounding environment. Both infected and recovered birds are lifelong carriers of the disease; they will continue to shed the virus in their feather dander and through oral and nasal secretions for the remainder of their lives.
If you have infected birds in your flock and you bring in new birds, the new birds are at risk of becoming infected if they are housed with your birds and did not receive Marek’s vaccination at hatch. The disease is not transmitted through the parents to the egg. Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment for the disease and infected birds never recover.
Birds that develop clinical symptoms of the disease usually do so because of some form of stress trigger. This could be normal hormonal changes associated with the onset of egg-laying in hens or crowing in roosters, flock fighting and peck order establishment, extreme weather conditions, predator attack, change in management or flock ownership, high parasite load, or rough handling. Birds may suddenly go lame, and this initial lameness may be mistaken for an injury. However, the lameness worsens until the bird is unable to walk. These birds may develop the classic Marek’s paralysis pose in which one leg is positioned straight out in front of the body and the other straight out behind.
There are four different forms of Marek’s disease, and infected birds may exhibit one or more forms:
Your order of Melissahof chicks will be scheduled for fulfillment according to when it is received. For instance, if your order is the first received it will be the first fulfilled in March 2022. Your order will maintain its prioritization if you choose to have your chicks hatched out later in the spring. With your order, please note your preferential timing of your chicks’ hatch – if any. Melissa will endeavor to meet your preference.
The Melissahof hatch season extends from March through June 2022. Melissahof chicks are available through pre-order only. There is no minimum quantity required per order.
There will be started pullets available for purchase in late summer.
The mountains and sagebrush plains of Wyoming are vast. We’re used to driving long distances, but you may not have time to drive to Lander – location of Melissahof – to pick up your chick order.
For your convenience, Melissahof partners with Eat Wyoming, a state-wide virtual farmers’ market, to transport orders across Wyoming. The Eat Wyoming driver will ensure your chicks are warm and safe on their drive across the state to a pick-up location near you.
Many folks keep chickens for their freshly laid eggs. On average, seven hens will lay at least 2-dozen eggs a week. It’s disappointing when many of the pullet chicks – young hens – purchased for your flock turn out to be roosters.
Accurately sexing day-old chicks is imprecise, which causes mistaken gender identity from even the commercial hatcheries. If you live in a town where roosters are unallowable due to their audible crowing, it’s a problem to have supposed pullet chicks actually be roosters. It’s a hassle to re-home unwanted roosters, and you may not want to process them for chicken meat.
Melissahof solves this for you with a Hen Guarantee! With notification by September 1st that your order of pullet chicks contained a rooster or two, Melissa will swap started pullets for roosters in healthy condition.
Melissa will add the superfluous roosters to the pen of “McNuggets” – the Melissahof roosters that live on pasture until they meet their destiny as nutritious chicken meat.