All poultry and captive birds in England must now be housed indoors to prevent the spread of bird flu as mandatory measures roll out today.
Farmers and bird keepers are legally required to shut their birds indoors to prevent access by wild birds and to follow strict biosecurity measures from Monday (7 November).
The UK's Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said bird keepers in England must "step up their efforts in the fight against avian influenza".
Since late October 2021, the UK has faced its largest ever outbreak of bird flu, with over 200 cases confirmed on commercial premises and smallholdings.
The disease was confirmed at over 90 premises since the start of last month, as well as in over 200 dead wild birds.
The government recently raised the risk of avian influenza in wild birds to 'very high'.
However, Ms Middlemiss warned that a housing order alone would not be enough to reduce infection rates.
"Implementing scrupulous biosecurity and separating flocks from wild birds remains the best form of defence," she said.
“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from today onwards they must be housed under cover to protect them from this highly infectious disease.”
The new housing measures build on the strengthened biosecurity measures that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) last month.
The AIPZ means that all keepers need to take extra precautions, such as restricting access for non-essential people on site.
The UK Health Security Agency continues to advise that the risk to public health from the virus is 'very low'.
And the Food Standards Agency advice remains unchanged, that avian influenzas pose a 'very low' food safety risk for UK consumers.
It comes after the government announced last week that it will alter its existing bird flu compensation scheme to make payments faster, helping stem cash flow pressures.
And in consultation with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), an easement to marketing rules will also be introduced in England.
This means that farmers who breed turkeys, geese or ducks for their meat will have an the option to slaughter their flocks early and to freeze these products.