Germany is poised to follow the Dutch and French examples and require free-range poultry producers to keep their birds indoors to prevent exposure to avian flu.

Secretary of state for agriculture Gerd Meuller said the authorities are fully expecting the H5N1 strain of the disease to arrive in Germany in March, when migrating birds start to cross the country again.

“We are concerned that Turkey is not doing enough to contain the disease and we also believe it is present in north Africa,” he told journalists at the Berlin Green Week.

Mr Meuller said that, whereas last October the federal government had recommended that birds be housed, this spring it would make it a legal requirement.

The government has already drawn up the draft legislation, ready to be fast-tracked at the start of the migrating season.