Poultry farmers told to keep chickens indoors because of bird flu outbreak

All poultry farmers in the Netherlands have been ordered to keep their birds inside, following an outbreak of the highly contagious bird flu strain at an organic poultry farm in Flevoland.

All 36,000 chickens at the Zeewolde farm were destroyed to prevent the disease from spreading.

Caretaker agriculture minister Carola Schouten imposed the measure with immediate effect from noon on Tuesday because of a rise in the number of dead wild birds in the north of the country and reports of dead birds from Germany as well.

There are another six poultry farms within three kilometres of the affected farm which are also being checked for bird flu, while transport of poultry, eggs, manure and feed has been banned.

Officials hope that by keeping poultry indoors wild birds will not be able to transmit the disease to other farms. Zoos, petting zoos and people who keep birds as a hobby will also have to make sure no contact is made with wild birds and their faeces.

The last time the government had to order farmers to keep poultry inside was in October 2020. It took some eight months before the measure was lifted but even then experts did not rule out that the virus was still affecting birds in the wild.

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