All bird keepers, from poultry farmers to families with a few chickens, have been ordered to house their animals for a month to protect the UK from a virulent outbreak of avian flu on mainland Europe.
The government chief vet, Nigel Gibbens, has declared a “prevention zone” for England that requires commercial and individual bird keepers to keep their birds inside for 30 days or take steps to separate them from wild birds.
The order, which was texted to poultry farmers on Tuesday, comes after a type of highly pathogenic avian flu, H5N8, was found in dead wild birds and some farm birds across Europe
He added: “Everybody should do what they can. Pet bird keepers should do their best and take sensible measures to separate them from wild birds, whilst looking after their welfare. I don’t want people putting them in a box in the dark and keeping them there for weeks on end.”
Poultry keepers are being advised to be vigilant for signs of bird flu and to call their vet promptly if they have any concerns.
Members of the public are also being asked to report cases of dead wild waterfowl such as swans, geese, ducks and gulls, or five or more dead birds of other species to Defra.