The Evolution of Vaccination Technology in the Poultry Industry

Commercial poultry farms invest significant resources in ensuring their flock's health and immunity, for these directly impact biosecurity and productivity. One of the most effective disease prevention methods is the routine administration of vaccines, following a carefully designed program. An effective vaccination program takes into account the disease situation in the farm's region and being the least stressful to the chickens. In order to obtain the optimal immune response (and best protection of the birds), the proper and careful application of vaccines is of utmost importance.

Vaccines may be mass-administered by spray, in the feed, or by the drinking water. Inactivated and some live vaccines, can be administered only individually to each bird by intra-muscular or sub-cutaneous injection.

It is well known that manual injection of a vaccine to each bird is a laborious process, prone to many misapplication errors, over or under dosing and user injuries. These may lead to the lack of uniformity in the immune status of the flock, and to absence from work of injured staff.

Common equipment used for injection of vaccines to poultry are: various syringes, breast plates, and pneumatic vaccinators. All these devices have typical short comings which result in several important failures. Missing un-injected birds, injecting a partial dose, poor delivery of the dosage due to inaccurate calibration, a dose not fully delivered because the needle was taken out too soon, poor control of vaccine temperature, continued injecting after the bottle has emptied and injecting with blunt needles. A major feature of these devices is the poor safety and the danger of serious injury to users (self-injection with oil emulsion vaccines may result in very painful wounds, requiring surgical intervention).

Vaccination of large flocks with syringes lead to some, or all of the above mishaps. These may end up in lack of uniformity in immunity level, in some birds remaining susceptible and prone to early infection. Rapid work and large numbers of birds compromise operators' safety as the needle protrudes and is not shielded.

Breast-plate vaccinators are electric-powered machines administering the vaccine directly to the bird's breast. Their use causes extra stress to the chicken. Breast plates are heavy, requiring to bringing each bird to it.

Pneumatic vaccinators are used for subcutaneous vaccination of one-day-old chicks in hatcheries.

As indicated, use of syringes and breast plates does not provide any real-time quality-control indicators. There is no way for the operator to know if he missed a bird, or he over-dosed or under-dosed a few birds, or that the vaccine container is empty. He may be unaware that the needle has become blunt from over-use and not be attentive to the vaccine temperature.

Modern agriculture depends more than ever on accurate and dependable data. Biosecurity, health control, vaccination programs and imuune status of flocks are essential for achieving efficient performance, economic success and wholesome meat and eggs for the consumer.

The pHi-Tech® vaccination system is a groundbreaking technological tool. Hundreds of poultry operations of different scales around the world have implemented the phi-Tech® system. phi-Tech® provides operators and team leaders with real-time information on all parameters of the vaccination process. It enables immediate response to any problem before any harm which may come up during the operation. Data on injection rate, number of administered injections, quantity of vaccine delivered and administration errors are all recorded. The phi-Tech® system collects and retains essential data during the vaccination process and displays it on comprehensive and intuitive Business Intelligence dashboards, providing veterinarians and managers with the tools they need to make data-driven decisions for enhancing farm productivity.