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14th Dec 2021
Auctioneer Tim Blyth on the rostrum at the 2020 Keys Christmas Poultry Sale

A historic Christmas poultry auction is set to take place for the 69th year in a row – although a combination of supply chain issues and avian flu means that there will be fewer birds going under the hammer than in previous years.

Around 100 turkeys, geese, chickens and ducks will be up for auction at Keys’ annual Christmas Poultry Sale on Tuesday 21st December.

To ensure Covid safety, this year’s sale will take place in a large, open-sided building at the firm’s Aylsham site, giving the advantages of lots of space, plenty of ventilation, and a roof to keep the rain off. 

The annual sale dates back to 1953, when Geoffrey Key held the first Christmas sale just months after the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.  The auction has taken place at Keys’ Aylsham sale ground in every year of the Queen’s reign, and is traditionally the firm’s last sale of the year.

“Our Christmas poultry sale is a wonderful Christmas tradition, which brings together local producers and local consumers,” said Tim Blyth, director at Keys.

“The widely-reported supply chain issues, coupled with an increasing avian flu problem across the UK, has meant that there are far fewer birds available this year.  But we were determined to continue with the sale and offer people the opportunity to come and buy their Christmas dinner – even if the sale will be smaller in scale than in previous years.”

Traditionally the Keys Christmas Poultry Sale attracts hundreds of people – mostly private individuals there to buy the main attraction for their Christmas lunch.

The majority of the birds, which include Norfolk Black and Bronze turkeys, and free-range geese and ducks, have been raised by small-scale local farmers.

Keys started out in 1953 as a small livestock market selling mainly poultry, and by the end of the 1950s had become one of the largest of their type in the country.  A young Bernard Matthews purchased his first turkeys from the firm.

The Keys annual Christmas Poultry Sale takes place on Tuesday 21st December from 11am.  Viewing of the birds on offer starts at 9am on the morning of the sale.