Poultry must be housed from Monday 7 November until further notice after the Department of Agriculture issued a housing order to prevent poultry from coming into contact with wild birds which may be carrying bird flu.

The order was made as countries, such as the UK and others in continental Europe, are forced to cull millions of birds in attempts to contain highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

Two cases of the pathogenic bird flu have been reported in captive bird flocks in coastal areas of counties Dublin and Wicklow.

Poultry farmers have been advised to take biosecurity measures to limit the risk of disease transmission from wild bird populations to their flocks.

Hygiene around poultry units and ensuring those entering houses have disinfected will help limit the risk of introducing HPAI on to farms.

“It is important to note that housing is a support to biosecurity, not an alternative. Stringent biosecurity remains key to protecting poultry and captive bird flocks from disease,” the Department said when issuing the order.

IFA poultry chair Nigel Sweetnam told the Irish Farmers Journal that reports suggest that the number of turkeys available to retailers is lower this year compared to others.

He said that many smaller growers had opted out of rearing turkeys with rising feed and electricity costs, stating that the number of birds available had the potential to decrease even further if culls are necessary in turkey flocks in the UK.