Vaccination in Poultry Birds

poultry vaccine

Why do we vaccinate

Adequate vaccination is an essential part of a good poultry management and for the success of any poultry operation. Effective preventive procedures such as vaccination protect poultry flocks from many contagious and deadly diseases and have resulted in improved flock health and production effectiveness.

Vaccination cannot be a substitute for poor biosecurity and sanitation. Thus, vaccination programs may not completely protect birds that are under stress or in unhygienic conditions.

The primary objective of vaccinating any poultry flock is to reduce the level of clinical disease and to promote optimal performance.

poultry vaccines

How do vaccines work?

Poultry vaccines are biological products that induce an immune response to the specific disease causing agents. Depending on the vaccine, they can be administered in various ways, all of which will be discussed in this post.

Depending on the type of antigen in the vaccine, the birds’ immune system will react, creating a “memory” response of antibodies and immune cells.  The more a bird is exposed to the same antigen, the greater the antibody response and resulting protection.  This is the reason many flocks are vaccinated multiple times for the same disease to maximize the immune system’s response.

Route of Administration of vaccine

Oral Vaccination

Using the drinking water systems in poultry housing is a common method to administer live vaccines. Birds must be water restricted for some hours to insure all birds are ready to drink once the vaccine is administered. Always administer the vaccine in the water early in the morning. Sufficient drinker space is required to allow free access to the vaccine solution.

Intraocular (eye drop) or Nasal drop vaccine

The vaccination will only be considered successful if the drop (0.03 ml) is placed into the eye or nasal cavity and absorbed. For this to occur, it is important to wait a few seconds after administering the drop, before releasing the bird.

Wing web vaccination

This route is commonly used for Fowl Pox, Avian Encephalomielitis, Chicken Anemia and Live Fowl Cholera.

  • Change the needle after vaccinating 500 birds. The used needles can be disinfected and used again as long as they remain sharpened.
  • If during the application the wing vein is punctured, immediately change the needle and repeat vaccination.
poultry vaccine
Wing web applicator

Injectable (inactivated) vaccines

Injectable vaccines must be manually injected into each bird using an 18 gauge by 1/4” needle.

There are two major injection methods in avian species to allow suitable vaccination:

Intramuscular (IM) – into the muscle

Subcutaneous (SC) – under the skin

Vaccine Administration

  • Administer the vaccine by using only the labelled dose at the chosen site of injection.
  • Needles should be regularly replaced, at least once every 500 birds.
  • Make sure that there is no air in the tube when the vaccine is administered.


Vaccination in Poultry Birds

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