THE DUTCH GOVERNMENT has imposed a housing order from 23 October on all free-range poultry after highly pathogenic avian influenza was discovered in wild birds in the country.

Six mute swans were found dead close to Utrecht with two testing positive for highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza.

See also: Highly pathogenic H5N8 found in the Netherlands

A dead wigeon from the same area is now also being tested for bird flu.

The Dutch ministry has said that the source of the virus was most likely migratory birds returning to Europe from regions of Russia that have experienced AI in recent weeks.

Risk level

It has raised the risk level of incursion onto a poultry farm to high and therefore introduced a housing order.

Duck farms will also have to store used litter in a way which makes it inaccessible to wild birds.

Produce from housed free-range poultry can be sold as free-range for the first 16-weeks, under EU legislation, after which they must be marketed as barn.


In the UK, Defra has raised the risk of AI incursion into wild birds to medium, though the risk of it entering a poultry farm is still considered low if biosecurity is in place.

But an assessment by the APHA has warned that immunity of wild birds to AI may be low at the moment.

Monitoring carefully

A statement from the UK’s four Chief Veterinary Officers said: “Following two confirmed cases of H5N8 avian influenza in the Netherlands we have raised the risk level for incursion to the UK from migratory birds to medium ahead of the winter migration season.

“The risk of the disease being introduced to poultry farms in the UK remains low.

“We are monitoring the situation carefully, and bird keepers should remain alert for any signs of disease, report suspected disease immediately and ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises.”

The full risk assessment can be found on Defra’s website