The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is working with its members to ensure they can put in place all the necessary measures to house their birds, as Defra announces new mandatory housing measures will be implemented across the UK from November 29.

NFU chief poultry adviser, Aimee Mahony said:

“Protecting bird health and welfare is our number one priority and, with an increasing number of confirmed Avian Influenza cases over the past few weeks, the introduction of national housing measures will help keep all birds, whether they are part of a commercial or back-yard flock, as safe as possible.

“These measures apply to all poultry keepers, whether you have one hen in the garden or a large poultry business.

Poultry keepers only have a few days to prepare and implement the additional measures that are now required and, given the urgency of the situation, I encourage everyone to take action as quickly as possible.

“Vigilance is key with this disease and it’s vital that keepers report any signs of disease in their birds at the earliest opportunity to help prevent any further outbreaks.”

Housing measures have been in place for parts of North Yorkshire since November 21, following a number of confirmed and suspect cases of H5N1 Avian Influenza in poultry in the area.

Public health advice remains that the risk to human health from the virus is very low, and food standards bodies advise that Avian Influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers; there is no impact on the consumption of properly cooked poultry products including eggs.

However, people should not touch or pick up any dead or sick birds and instead report them to the relevant helpline.