HAMBURG (Reuters) - Germany is considering ordering its poultry farmers to keep their flocks indoors following an outbreak of bird flu in the country, German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt said on Monday.


Germany and Switzerland reported new outbreaks of a severe strain of bird flu on Saturday, the latest in a series of cases across Europe. The H5N8 virus has also been found in Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Croatia.


Germany will consult with countries including the Netherlands, Poland and Denmark about possible action, Schmidt said ahead of a meeting in Brussels.


If the disease continues to show signs of spreading, Germany may go ahead alone and issue a lock-up order for poultry, Schmidt said.


Wild birds are suspected of being the source of the current bird flu outbreak. The upcoming Christmas season is a critical time for sales for poultry farmers throughout Europe.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Hans-Edzard Busemann, Writing by Michael Hogan; Editing by Greg Mahlich)