Just completed my $3000 dream coop and planned to move young flock in. Now one has Marek’s. Now what…

Need advice ASAP. Lost longer post but will share context in post in this forum.

  • A. Slow down and stick to the plan. Assume all exposed.

  • B. Cull the SS and stick to the plan. Assume all exposed.

  • C. Cull ALL the unvax’d. Assume all exposed. Move on.

  • D. Burn it all down.

  • E. Burn it all down and move and then burn that down.

Results are only viewable after voting.


May 21, 2022
Oh gosh, I am so sorry! :hugs Some members live with their flocks and Mareks. It may not always be pretty but they manage. Let me tag a member who recently started the thread I linked below... @coach723


My first flock turned up with MS at a very young age which is generally a culling situation. I decided not to cull and make it a learning experience. I am glad I did.

Good luck!
Did the ones you kept survive long and did they suffer at all?

I appreciate the link. It’s exactly where I’m at. :/

I just wish I knew to ask about the others being vaccinated. :(


Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Mar 21, 2011
New Mexico, USA
My Coop
My Coop
Did the ones you kept survive long and did they suffer at all?

I appreciate the link. It’s exactly where I’m at. :/

I just wish I knew to ask about the others being vaccinated. :(
MS is a bacteria that causes lameness, the birds remain carriers the rest of their lives. I spent hundreds in antibiotics, had to do surgery on the foot pads daily to drain the fluid so they could at least hobble, most of the flock was sick for 8 full months. They all survived the initial outbreak but I am sure it shorten their lives. All new added birds were exposed as well.

Unfortunately chicken's don't come with a manual and we are all bound to make many mistakes as we learn along the journey. It's incredibly unfortunate that you are going through this test of courage so early in your chicken keeping, but take heart that if nothing else, not only will you learn more about them than you would had you had a healthy flock, but you will develop a bonding empathy that you would never have understood if your birds were well. I've been where you are, cried my eyes out for months, but in the end I was a way better steward to my birds then had I not learned all I did. :hugs

Hip Hillbilly Farm

Premium Feather Member
Nov 7, 2021
Georgia, USA
Based on hours of reading last night, I’m about 99% sure our 8 week old Speckled Sussex has Marek’s. If you could read below and give me your best thoughts on what to do next in my situation, I would absolutely appreciate it. I’m realistic but also…my babies…

Context: I’m new to this chicken keeping stuff but I’m informed and doing my best by my birds. This is a hobby for me as a new empty-nester. 😊 (Sadly I was not informed enough, but I keep learning.) All of my young birds have been kept in giant dogs cages that are wrapped in hardware cloth since I brought them home with the best of everything they can have. They are spoiled and the dogs are jealous. The 8 week old flock’s cage was moved outside recently (3 weeks ago) and they have had outside free range time everyday while I’m outside. The 2-3 week old younger flock has had their cage outside once, but they have not been out of the cage. The new coop is sand and litter/PDZ/DE based due to my own allergies and it’s beautiful - and will be ready tomorrow…
  • Here’s our two flocks that have been kept separately, but together based on chick age since we got them:
    • 1 flock of 6: Five birds of different breeds from a local farmer - whom I just learned doesn’t vaccinate her chicks (no judgement- just wish I had known!). And, One Sapphire gem from a hatchery that I have confirmed IS vax’d for Marek’s. I got them all when less than a week old (SS, Swedish Flower, Delaware, Welsummer, Del/Welsummer mix) and they are all now 8 weeks old and a good flock together. We planned to move this flock of six 8 week old chicks into the coop fortress (Fort Yolk) tomorrow. 🤦‍♀️ And…of course…These 6 have been all over each other, my family, our house, and our yard. Only one is confirmed vax’d.
    • Our other smaller flock is a flock of 4 hybrids: two 3 week old Calico Princesses and two 2 week old Aquilas. All 4 of these are from our co-op and I have confirmed they have ALL been vaccinated for Marek’s. (whew!) We planned to move these four into Fort Yolk in a couple of weeks with the others after integrating them. The ten birds have only been all together one time two weeks ago for a short few mins while I cleaned cages. (I know better now.)

Here’s what’s going on, I have options below if you could help me move forward in the best way possible for the greater good👇

-Our SS cockerel started limping Friday. Was sure it was due to an injury (then remembered it was a different bird that was injured - it’s fine now). Saturday he was still limping, by last night (Sun), he could barely walk and now has a paralyzed wing. Sleeping constantly and not playful like just a few days ago. Not appearing to eat or drink but does still seems curious to pick at the grass if he’s plopped in it. Doesn’t complain and doesn’t appear to be in pain. Yesterday he managed to hobble and join his flockmates when they followed me. (This is before I knew how hard it is to contain Marek’s or that it was probably Marek’s - of course we isolated him immediately afterward and he is all alone now with just a hope and a prayer for company.) For what it’s worth, his poop is liquidish and has been for about a week now and as of yesterday it’s nearly all urine because he’s not eating. No treatment so far other than isolation and a treatment for worms on Saturday (because I worried that’s what the runny poop was because they just moved outside two weeks ago).

My intent is to not let him suffer, not to have any others suffer, and to not suffer myself through stress/sadness and worry. I’m prepared to cull him today if it’s best (although it is hard to know if I should wait to see for improvement - sort of like putting any pet down). (And if I should cull all the confirmed unvax’d birds…)

All that said, this is my current issue :

Now what?

So far - NONE OF THE OTHER BIRDS HAVE SYMPTOMS, both those vax’d and unvax’d. Fort Yolk is complete and the older birds need to be moved in (at least the confirmed vax’d one, right?).

Should I…

A. Just keep the SS isolated and wait and see what happens. Don’t change the plan.
Move all the 8 week old birds besides the SS into the coop tomorrow and move the other younger flock into the coop in a few weeks. Assume this is Marek’s but hope for the best for the 5 unvax’d birds and accept that the vax’d birds will likely get it but at least survive. If any birds show symptoms, isolate the bird and cull it if it is suffering. Cut my losses but know I did my best at something hard that’s new to me… Assume all birds will have Marek’s now in this yard and only get vax’d birds and do not give away any birds.


B. Same as A but cull the SS currently showing signs of Marek’s NOW and cull any other unvax’d birds ASAP IF they show signs of it.
Cut my losses but know I did my best at something hard that’s new to me… Assume all birds will have Marek’s now in this yard and only get vax’d birds and do not give away any birds.

C. Cull the SS and ALL unvax’d birds today. Assume all the exposed birds have Marek’s and the unvax’d are likely to suffer from and/or die of it. Cull all the older flock now, whether showing signs of Marek’s or not (except for the one that is confirmed vaccinated). Slowly integrate the ONE confirmed vax’d 8 week old of the older flock with the new younger vaccinated chicks in the new coop. Cut my losses but know I did my best at something hard that’s new to me… Assume all birds will have Marek’s now in this yard and only get vax’d birds and do not give away any birds.

D. Set fire to everything and ponder midlife as I stare at the flames and cut my losses but know I did my best at something hard that’s new to me…
and hope for the best.

E. Same as D but then move from my new dream home and then set fire to the new place. Wait 10 years, set it on fire again, then finally get new chicks that are vax’d and hope for the best.
oh my I DO hope you are able to come to a good conclusion for you and your flock. Neophyte here so unable to offer anything except empathy.


Heartless Ice Queen
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Apr 9, 2013
My Coop
My Coop
Thank you.

This is where I have been leaning as I would hate to see the others suffer. The challenge is knowing they can survive it, even if rarely, makes me wonder if it’s just better to see how they do and cull if needed. I have a vet in my family with chickens and she suggested that if they are just pets to me, then to take time before culling them all because you can’t “uncull”. At this point I’m just so frustrated… I was so excited about finally getting them into their new place.
I’m really sorry you’re going through this, it’s so hard when you’re not sure what’s going on. I hope it isn’t Marek’s.


Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Apr 3, 2011
southern Ohio
I would get a necropsy on the pullet showing signs of what you think may be Mareks first. If you cull keep the body cold and take it in to your state vet shortly after that to get a neceopsy and testing. Usually they can see evidence of Mareks in tumors or nerve enlargement, but they can also test for it. Many things can look like Mareks, so I would rather get it confirmed before doing anything drastic. Here is a list of state vets to contact:

A few labs in the US will perform a PCR Mareks test on blood that you can collect from a trimmed toenail. RAL lab is the one I have read about. Here is where to contact them where they can explain how to go about testing at home:


Free Ranging
7 Years
Feb 12, 2015
North Florida
Agreed, I would not panic, not assume, until you have it confirmed, or find out it's something entirely different. The most common time for Marek's symptoms to show up is point of lay, so about 20 weeks. However, Marek's symptoms can vary widely and the birds often do not present with the symptoms that are commonly discussed. Some birds will pass suddenly for no apparent reason, immune systems differ, genetics differ, virus strains differ. Many flocks do not have massive mortality, it just depends on the strain. I stress, do not assume, get confirmation of what it is for sure. It's worth the time and effort. I have Marek's and I'm dealing with it. Many(most) of my birds do not show symptoms, I have birds that are 10 years old with no symptoms. My birds are not vaccinated, personal choice at this point due to concerns about the vaccine leakiness. I have chosen to try to breed for resistance. But until you have confirmation, there is no way to really know whether you need to make choices or not, or what kind of choices you may be looking at. Chicks die of many things, adult birds die of many things. Marek's is not always the end of things.


Sep 21, 2019
Just, so everyone here is aware. Should the bird test positive for avian flu, the government comes in and culls your entire flock. Without testing them individually. Just thought this might be a worthy foot note, not recommending for, or against anything since everyone's situation is different.

Personally, non of my chickens are vaxxed for anything, I don't want them vaxxed for anything, and if one is sick we cull and burn the remains like Spartans.

The reason I do this, is I don't want to be vaccinated myself for Mareks, worms, and everything else should I eat one of my chickens.

Also, the reason I asked about the roosters, is I've had the top rooster get dethroned before by another rooster, they get depressed, look sick, stay in the hen house and die. It's happened twice and it's a sad thing but something to keep in mind when diagnosing issues.

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