Vaccination of commercial layer chickens is labor intensive and often results in poor rates of seroconversion, which, in turn, generally correlate with decreased flock uniformity and performance. Attempts to improve the vaccination process include numerous variations of individual shop-built vaccinators in use by the layer sector of the poultry industry. Each of these vaccinators has limitations that contribute to poor vaccinations. Major problems include the nonuniform speed of the applicator system and pressure fluctuations at the spray nozzles, which contribute to sporadic dispersion of the vaccine as the vaccinator is pushed or carried past the cages. A battery-powered, self-propelled, constant-speed vaccinator was designed and constructed that operates with constant nozzle pressure. In field use, this vaccinator has resulted in both labor savings (reduction of manpower from five to one to vaccinate 75,000 chickens) and time savings (from 45 min to 7.5 min/poultry house) as well as improved vaccination results (higher positive seroconversion rates) against the poultry pathogen Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG), a bacterium associated with losses of 15.7 eggs/hen over a 45-wk laying period in MG-infected layers as compared with layers maintained free from infection with MG.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1