Housing for all poultry in England and Wales

19 January 2023

A picture of a poultry worker wearing PPE walking past hens

Mandatory housing measures for all poultry and captive birds are to be introduced to all areas of England from 00:01 on Monday 7 November, following a decision by the United Kingdom’s Chief Veterinary Officer. Housing measures were also introduced in Wales on Friday 2 December. 

Catching up game birds

From 9 January, the AIPZ has been updated to introduce a 21-day standstill rule for all game birds that are caught up in the open season.

Once wild game birds have been caught up, they are classed as poultry, and they must not be moved for 21 days. You must keep a record of the date they were caught, and the number of birds caught each day.

Read the full guidance at: Bird flu: rules if you keep game birds - GOV.UK

The order will extend the mandatory housing measures already in force in Suffolk, Norfolk and parts of Essex to the whole of England following an increase in the national risk of avian influenza in wild birds to very high.

This means that from 00:01 on Monday 7 November, it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers in England to house their birds to help protect their flocks from the threat of avian influenza.

View the housing declaration at: Defra | Declaration of an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone - including housing measures (England)

The Chief Veterinary Officer is now encouraging all bird keepers across England to use the week to prepare, including taking steps to safeguard animal welfare, consult their private vet and expand housing where necessary.

NFU Cymru has welcomed news that mandatory housing measures for all poultry and captive birds are to be introduced to all areas of Wales from Friday 2 December. The move came shortly after NFU Cymru wrote to Welsh Government requesting that mandatory housing measures be urgently introduced. Visit: NFU Cymru welcomes Avian Influenza housing order for birds in Wales

The housing measures across Wales also include a mandarory biosecurity self assessment. Visit: Welsh Government | Avian influenza (bird flu): latest update

An AIPZ (Avian Influenza Prevention Zone) without housing measures remains in place across the whole of Scotland.

Read the full declaration for England: GOV.UK | Avian influenza: Housing order to be introduced across England.

Read the full declaration for Wales: Welsh Government | All-Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone

Regional AIPZs

Following a number of detections of avian influenza in poultry and wild and captive birds, regional housing measures came into effect on 12 October for parts of eastern England. See how this affects poultry producers in these regions in this article: 

NFU Poultry Board chair James Mottershead said: “As poultry producers, the health and welfare of our birds is our number one priority, and these housing measures alongside the existing additional biosecurity requirements will help minimise the impact of avian influenza on the poultry sector.

Remain vigilant

“These measures apply to all poultry keepers, whether you have one hen in the garden or a large poultry business, and I urge everyone to remain vigilant.

“This is a really challenging time for the British poultry sector but producers are doing all they can to protect their birds and to maintain production of poultry meat and eggs, especially as we approach Christmas.

“The NFU will continue to work with the government and the wider supply chain to minimise the impacts of avian influenza, both now and in the future.”

Risk levels

The risk of incursion of HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) in wild birds has been increased to very high.

The risk of incursion of HPAI in poultry with stringent biosecurity in place has been increased to medium.

The risk of incursion of HPAI in poultry with suboptimal biosecurity in place has been increased to high.

Measures for enhanced biosecurity

From 00.01 on Monday 7 November 2022 all bird keepers in England must house or net all poultry and captive birds. This is in addition to the enhanced biosecurity requirements of the GB-wide AIPZ declared on 17 October.

From 12 noon on Monday 17 October all bird keepers in Great Britain must:

  • Take precautions against transfer of virus contamination between sites or premises, including the cleansing and disinfection of footwear, vehicles and equipment
  • Where more than 50 birds are kept, place a foot dip with Defra-approved disinfectant at the correct dilution rate at strategic points including at the entry and exit of all houses or outdoor areas where birds are kept and use on entry and exit of such areas (alternatively disposable footwear should be changed when moving between bird and non-bird areas)
  • Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds. For example, by netting ponds and by removing wild bird food sources 
  • Store feed, water and bedding undercover
  • Not keep ducks and geese in the same pen or building as other poultry species
  • Prevent access with poultry or other captive birds on other neighbouring premises 
  • Reduce the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from the part of the premises where birds are kept to essential movements only
  • Exercise effective rodent control in areas poultry are kept 
  • Record all vehicles and people who enter the premises or come into contact with birds (zoos are exempt) 
  • Record all poultry, captive birds and egg movements and make these available to an inspector or veterinary inspector on demand 
  • Ensure bird housing is well maintained, with any water leaks or contamination routes rectified
  • Where birds are not housed, all poultry or other captive birds must be kept in fenced/enclosed outdoor areas, (please see the declaration for the rest of England for full requirements) 
  • Keep records of all poultry and other captive bird deaths and disposal and make such records available to an inspector or veterinary inspector on demand
  • Immediately report to the APHA any increased morbidity or mortality or significant drop in egg production (or where relevant feed and water intake) or other relevant information relating to the production of eggs on the premises

Additionally, keepers with more than 500 birds are required to take extra biosecurity measures, including:

  • Operating three defined parts of the premises: live-bird, private and restricted access
  • Operating effective barrier hygiene, including changing clothing and footwear before entering and exiting the live-bird area
  • Restricting access to the live-bird area to essential authorised personnel and essential equipment and vehicles and these must be recorded on entry/exit
  • Cleansing and disinfecting any vehicle exterior or equipment entering or leaving the live-bird part of the premise
  • Thorough cleansing and disinfecting of housing and equipment must be carried out at the end of a production cycle before any new birds are introduced
  • Keeping biosecure facilities in the private part of the premises for waste and fallen stock with clear separation between both the live-birds and restricted access parts
  • Regularly inspect structural integrity of any building used to house poultry for holes and leaks, with particular emphasis on roofs, gutters, and downpipes.  Any holes and leaks must be repaired without undue delay as previous cases of avian influenza have been linked to water ingress and flooding
  • Egg producers will need to ensure the packing, handling, and storage of second quality eggs / farm seconds is a managed in a biosecure manner
  • Plastic egg trays must be cleansed and disinfected before use and records maintained
  • Wild game birds should not be fed within 500m of the restricted access part of the premises where this area is under the control of the keeper.

Be vigilant

Poultry and captive bird keepers are advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their vet if they have any concerns.

Public health advice remains that the risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.

There is no impact on the consumption of properly cooked poultry products including eggs.

If disease is suspected

Poultry and captive bird keepers and members of the public should report dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

Bird keepers should report suspicion of disease in England to Defra Rural Services Helpline on 0300 0200 301.

In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268.

Read more around the net

Ask us a question about this page

Once you have submitted your query someone from NFU CallFirst will contact you. If needed, your query will then be passed to the appropriate NFU policy team.

You have 0 characters remaining.

By completing the form with your details on this page, you are agreeing to have this information sent to the NFU for the purposes of contacting you regarding your enquiry. Please take time to read the NFU’s Privacy Policy if you require further information.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.