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England-only poultry housing order announced from 7 November

free-range hens indoors

A HOUSING order for all poultry and captive birds will be introduced to all areas of England from 7 November, following a decision by the United Kingdom’s chief veterinary officer.

The housing measures legally require all bird keepers in England to keep poultry indoors and to follow stringent biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from avian influenza.

See also: How to make your poultry farm more resilient to avian influenza threat

The order will extend the mandatory housing measures already in place in Suffolk, Norfolk and parts of Essex to the whole of England following an increase in the national risk of bird flu in wild birds to very high.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Having analysed the available scientific evidence, we are not introducing mandatory housing of poultry in Wales at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation in Wales. 

“All keepers must keep their birds safe by rigorously applying the biosecurity measures in the Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, and be vigilant for signs of the disease.”

Over the past year, the United Kingdom has faced its largest-ever outbreak of avian influenza with over 200 cases confirmed since late October 2021.

The introduction of the housing measures comes after the disease was detected at more than 70 premises since the beginning of October, as well as multiple reports in wild birds.

Defra is now encouraging all bird keepers across England to use the week to prepare, including taking steps to safeguard animal welfare, consult their private vet and expand housing where necessary.

The United Kingdom’s CVO, Christine Middlemiss. said: “We are now facing this year, the largest-ever outbreak of bird flu and are seeing rapid escalation in the number of cases on commercial farms and in backyard birds across England.

“The risk of kept birds being exposed to disease has reached a point where it is now necessary for all birds to be housed until further notice.

“Scrupulous biosecurity and separating flocks in all ways, from wild birds remain the best form of defence.

“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from Monday 7 November onwards you must keep your indoors. This decision has not been taken lightly, but is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.

Evidence shows that housing birds reduces the risk of kept birds being infected with bird flu.

However, housing alone does not protect birds and keepers must still follow the other enhanced biosecurity measures mandated by the AIPZ at all times, Defra added, to protect their flocks and prevent the risk of future outbreaks which is circulating in wild birds.