Germany is likely to require all poultry to be kept indoors to prevent a bird flu outbreak in the country this spring.

A previous ban on keeping farm birds outside, which expired in December, will be reinstated, Dow Jones Newswires reported. The new ban would run from 1 March to 30 April January 2006.

Germany's agriculture minister Horst Seehofer told the news agency: "We intend to strengthen the measures we have already taken, and also introduce further steps. We will meet with resolve the greatest danger of the spread of the virus through poultry and poultry products."

According to Dow Jones, the decision on a new order is due to be taken by the end of the month. Seehofer also said Germany is planning to push for stronger controls on the European Union's external borders.