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All hens adopted through the British Hen Welfare Trust have received the full set of vaccinations required by commercial systems listed below in red.

Commercial poultry (including ex-bats)

All laying hens are vaccinated as chicks before entering the commercial system, and vaccination is the most practical method for controlling infectious diseases, some of which can be airborne. Infectious diseases are impossible to totally control by biosecurity alone.

There are two main types of vaccine available for poultry: live or killed.

Live vaccines can be administered by spray (aerosol), via drinking water, eye drops and in some cases by injection.

Killed vaccines give high, prolonged levels of immunity, but must be injected into individual birds.

The selection of vaccines and the age at which they are administered will vary depending on the type of bird (layer or broiler) and local disease conditions.

Whilst vaccination has its purpose, no vaccine guarantees life-long immunity for birds.

Ex-bat hens are generally vaccinated against the following diseases:

1 dayMarek’s disease
5 daysCoccidiosis
7-10 daysMarek’s diseases (2nd dose)
3 weeksNewcastle disease (2nd dose) *
Infectious bronchitis **
4 weeksInfectious bursal disease
6-18 weeksChicken infectious anaemia
10 weeksNewcastle disease (2nd dose) *
Infectious bronchitis **
12 weeksSalmonellosis (Compulsory for Lion Brand eggs)
Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale
14 weeksInfectious avian encephalomyelitis
18 weeksNewcastle disease (3rd dose) *

* Maternal immunity can prevent the effectiveness of primary vaccination for Newcastle Disease and repeated vaccination is usually considered the safest option.
** Young egg laying birds are very susceptible to virulent forms of Infectious bronchitis thus up to three doses of intermediate strain vaccine may be given in drinking water.

Depending on local disease conditions, vaccinations for the following may also be included:

  • Mycoplasma gallisepticum and synoviae.
  • Infectious coryza.
  • Fowl cholera and Fowl pox (used in endemic areas).
  • Egg drop syndrome.
  • Gumboro disease.

Vaccination stimulates activity in the immune system of the hen and is then eliminated.

Pet hens / backyard poultry / fancy breeds

Always check that hens purchased privately from breeders, markets and other sources have received vaccinations as it is not good practice to mix vaccinated and non-vaccinated  birds. If you do need to merge birds put in place a two week quarantine period to ensure you are not introducing unknown disease or health problems into your current flock.


Vets in general practice do not normally offer booster vaccinations for pet hens as they only have access to vaccines in commercial quantities.

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