Broiler chicken

The move comes less than a week after it introduced a housing order in parts of Yorkshire 

Bird keepers across the UK will be required to keep their poultry and captive birds indoors from Monday 29 November in a bid to stop the spread of avian influenza, Defra has announced.

The move to a national housing order comes less than a week after Defra reported a “number of confirmed and suspected cases” on 21 November in North Yorkshire, and introduced housing measures for parts of the region. Defra introduced a national prevention zone across Great Britain on 3 November.

Every bird owner will now be required to adhere to “strict biosecurity measures” and take “extra precautions” to keep their flocks safe.

This includes the regular cleaning and disinfecting of equipment, clothes and vehicles when entering or exiting sites and limiting access to non-essential workers or visitors, Defra said.

Chief veterinary officers from across all four nations worked together to introduce the new housing measures at the same time.

“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,” they said in a joint statement.

“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.”

Defra described the risk of avian flu to human health as “low” and said it did not affect the consumption of properly cooked poultry products including eggs.