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15th Dec 2022
Auctioneer Tim Blyth on the rostrum at the Keys Christmas Poultry Sale

A historic Christmas poultry auction is set to take place for the 70th year in a row – although the recurrence of 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 Wednesday 21st December.

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 took place at Keys’ Aylsham sale ground in every year of the Queen’s reign, and now that tradition is continuing into a new royal era.  The Poultry Sale is traditionally the firm’s last auction 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.

“Sadly avian flu has once again been a major issue for our poultry farmers, and that will mean 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 Wednesday 21st December from 11am.  Viewing of the birds on offer starts at 9am on the morning of the sale.