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Procedure and Checklist for Water Vaccination of Meat Turkey Flocks

Published on: 10/18/2013
Author/s : David Frame, DVM, Diplomate ACPV (Utah State University Extension Poultry Specialist)
Vaccination for certain diseases is an important component of the health management program for commercial meat turkey production. Because of logistical challenges almost all routine vaccination of meat turkey flocks is administered through the drinking water. Examples of diseases for which vaccination is performed include Newcastle disease, bordetellosis (turkey coryza), fowl cholera, and hemorrhagic enteritis. 
Figure 1. Three-week-old turkeys receiving drinking water containing vaccine with added Hi- Light® dye.
Procedure and Checklist for Water Vaccination of Meat Turkey Flocks - Image 1
The following general procedure is recommended when administering live vaccines through the drinking water.
  • Turn off chlorine 48 hours before administering the vaccine.
  • Flush powdered milk at rate of 1 lb (1 dry pint)/100 gallons of water through line before vaccine administration.
  • Drain and raise water lines.
  • Withhold water from turkeys for 1 ½ hours.
  • Pre-mix vaccine in 1 gallon of cool nonchlorinated water with 1 tablespoon powdered milk added.
  • Mix vaccine into stock solution.
  • An appropriate water soluble dye that is harmless to live vaccines may be added to the stock solution at this time. At the Utah State University Turkey Research Facility it was found that 45 mL (3 tablespoons) of liquid Hi-Light® (Becker-Underwood, Ames, Iowa) per gallon stock solution works well; others report that one Hi-light tablet per 20 liters (5 gallons) of drinking water gives an acceptable concentration.
  • Fill water lines until the blue dye is visible.
  • Drop lines and let turkeys drink.
  • Anticipate enough water volume so that the vaccine is consumed within 4 to 8 hours.
  • Two hours after beginning vaccination, pick up at least 50 turkeys and check for stained tongue and/or nostrils.
  • Do not chlorinate or medicate water for 24 hours after all vaccine has been consumed. 
Diseases of Poultry, 12th ed. Y. M. Saif, Editor-in- Chief. Blackwell Publishing, Ames, Iowa. 2008.
Hemorrhagic Enteritis Vaccination of Turkeys, F. William Pierson. Proceedings, American College of Poultry Veterinarians Workshop. 2010.
Poultry Focus. Intervet. 2005. http://www.msdanimal- health.co.uk/binaries/92_103278.pdf.
Drinking Water Vaccination. Noblis Vaccination Series, Edition 1. Intervet. http://www.msd-animalhealth. co.za/binaries/Drinking-water-vaccinationbooklet_ tcm88-224586.pdf.
Drinking Water Vaccination. T. Cserep. Intervet. http://www.gumboro.com/downloads/english/water vaccination.pdf.
Effects of Temperature and Stabilizer on the Viability of a Live Attenuated Avian Metapneumovirus Vaccine. M. A. Ramakrishnan. Avian Diseases 51(4):979-981. 2007.
Author/s :
Associate Professor and Extension Poultry Specialist, Utah State University, Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences Department
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