A HOUSING ORDER for all poultry has been declared across the four nations of the UK from Monday, 29 November.
It means that it will be a legal requirement to house commercial and domestic poultry and captive birds to reduce the risk of avian influenza transmission.
There has been an unprecedented number of outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 in the UK and across Europe so far this winter.
Earlier this week a regional housing order affecting parts of North Yorkshire was imposed, after a spate of cases in the area.
Where housing is compulsory, free-range eggs and chicken may still be marketed as free-range for the first 16 weeks under a legal derogation, after which point they will be classed as barn.
Farmers should use the next five days to prepare for the new housing measures, including taking steps to safeguard animal welfare, consulting their vet and putting up additional housing where necessary.
An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ), which makes biosecurity a legal requirement, has been in place since 3 November.
In a joint statement, the UK’s four CVOs said: “We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease and are now planning to introduce a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds.
“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from Monday 29 November onwards, you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.
“We have not taken this decision lightly.
“Taking this action now is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”