DUTCH POULTRY FARMERS will have to keep free-range birds housed for another four weeks, the country’s agricultural minister has announced.

Carola Schouten wrote to the Dutch House of Representatives confirming the extension after highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza was found close to the border on a turkey farm in North-West Germany.

See also: How Belgian farmers managed non-notifiable bird flu

The housing order was first put in place on 11 February after bird flu was discovered in Germany.

The expert group that advises Ms Schouten said the risk had subsequently dropped, with no wild birds in the Netherlands testing positive for the virus and migrating wildfowl now leaving North-West Europe after winter.

But last week a small poultry farm near Leipzig, east Germany was found to have the virus.

And later that week a turkey breeder farm close to the Netherlands tested positive for the virus.

As a consequence, Ms Shouten said the housing order would be extended as a precaution for a further four weeks.