Industry Innovation: In ovo vaccination

Published on Nov. 23, 2023

Industry Innovation: In ovo vaccination

In ovo vaccination is a technique used in the poultry industry to administer vaccines to developing embryos inside fertilized eggs before they hatch. This method has gained popularity due to its efficiency, effectiveness, and ability to enhance the immune response of chicks, providing them with early protection against various diseases. In ovo vaccination is not yet commonly used in most layer hatcheries, as there is the vaccine wastage due to discarded male eggs. But this could be tackled in countries where in-ovo sexing takes place, as only hatching eggs containing viable female embryos are kept. Here’s what you need to know about in ovo vaccination:

Process Overview: In the in ovo vaccination process, vaccines are administered to the embryo through a small hole made in the eggshell. This is typically done during the egg’s incubation period, usually around the 18th day of incubation for broilers and turkeys. Optimal hatchery hygiene, during all egg handling processes and incubation stages is essential in order to implement in ovo vaccination.


  • Enhanced Immune Response: Vaccinating embryos in ovo stimulates the development of the immune system before the chicks hatch. This leads to stronger and more specific immunity against the targeted diseases.
  • Uniformity: In ovo vaccination ensures consistent vaccine delivery to each embryo, resulting in uniform immune protection within a flock.
  • Reduced Stress: Since vaccination occurs before hatching, chicks are not subjected to the stress of traditional post-hatch vaccination procedures, such as handling, transport, and exposure to environmental changes.
  • Cost and Labor Savings: In ovo vaccination can save labor and reduce the need for manual post-hatch vaccination, which can be time-consuming and requires skilled personnel.

Disease Prevention: In ovo vaccination can be used to protect against a range of diseases, including Marek’s Disease, Newcastle Disease, Infectious Bronchitis, and more. Each disease requires a specific vaccine, and the choice of vaccine depends on the targeted disease and the immunity level required. At the moment, immunization against Marek’s depends exclusively on the vaccination carried out at the hatchery, and there is no possibility of a booster vaccination in the field. This increases the importance of the measures taken in the hatchery.

Vaccine Delivery Systems: Various equipment and methods are used for in ovo vaccination. Automated machines can be used to accurately and efficiently inject vaccines into eggs on a commercial scale. The vaccines are delivered in a controlled manner to ensure consistent and accurate dosing.

Challenges: While in ovo vaccination offers numerous advantages, there are challenges to consider, such as:

  • Ensuring precise vaccine delivery to the correct part of the embryo.
  • Maintaining sanitation and preventing contamination during the vaccination process.
  • Addressing potential vaccine wastage due to discarded male eggs or improperly injected eggs

Widespread Adoption: In ovo vaccination has been widely adopted in the broiler industry due to the clear benefits it offers. The technique is considered an essential tool in modern poultry production for improving flock health and performance.

Research and Development: Ongoing research focuses on refining in ovo vaccination methods, developing new vaccines, and optimizing equipment to improve efficiency and vaccine coverage.

In summary, in ovo vaccination is a valuable tool in modern poultry production, commonly used in commercial broiler and turkey farming, but with potential for the egg sector as well. It offers early and efficient disease protection to chicks, reduces stress, and contributes to better flock health and performance. As with any technique, proper training, equipment, and management are crucial for successful implementation.

PlumaGen Elevates Hatchery Services with In Ovo Vaccination

PlumaGen, a significant player in the Brazilian egg hatchery sector, has taken a substantial stride forward by introducing in ovo vaccination against Marek’s Disease for its 1-day-old chicks. This innovation marks a pioneering step, positioning PlumaGen as the first commercial egg genetic house in Brazil to adopt this advanced vaccination technique.

After the successful acquisition of Dekalb and Hisex layers’ production and commercialization in 2022, Pluma Genetics is further elevating its service excellence for Brazilian commercial egg farms. The company’s in ovo vaccination process will be fully automated, employing the Rispens strain of the Marek’s Disease vaccine. This novel approach will be implemented in 3 out of the 4 hatcheries of the company (Birigui, Louveira and Campina Grande). The in ovo vaccination method, long employed in the broiler segment, is a technological leap for laying genetics. Despite potential vaccine loss due to male egg discards during the hatching process, PlumaGen is embracing this method to furnish Brazilian farms with more robust and immunologically prepared chicks. This investment demonstrates PlumaGen’s dedication to employee well-being, process enhancement, product quality, animal welfare, and unparalleled flock health.

In light of the investment required despite potential vaccine loss, PlumaGen’s leadership firmly believes in its contribution to product quality. The in ovo vaccination guarantees not only protection against Marek but also enhances immune conditions in our chicks. PlumaGen’s pioneering step is recognized as a game-changer for laying birds, affirming the importance of this innovation in enhancing product quality, adding value, and advancing the commercial egg production industry.

For Jairo Arenazio, PlumaGen’s executive, it is about putting into practice the philosophy that has guided the company since its beginning. “our philsophy is reflected in our slogan: PlumaGen, Quality with Health Guarantee. With these words, we have conducted our business before all our clients, always valuing our integrity in the search for putting promises into practice, in an objective way, actions that will translate into better quality and sanitary safety of the products we deliver every day to the market. The “In Ovo” vaccination is a step towards a future that will ensure that Marek becomes a story of the past for our customers. This step clearly demonstrates our search for improvement in all our processes,” concludes Arenazio.

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