Christmas tradition that has taken place in every year of Queen’s reign

Auctioneer David Gould on the rostrum at the 2017 Keys annual Christmas poultry sale. Picture: Andy

Auctioneer David Gould on the rostrum at the 2017 Keys annual Christmas poultry sale. Picture: Andy Newman - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of turkeys, geese, chickens and ducks from local producers will go under the hammer at an annual Christmas poultry sale.

The sale has taken place at Keys' Aylsham saleground in every year of the Queen's reign, and is traditionally the firm's last sale of the year.

It dates back to 1953, when Geoffrey Key held the first Christmas sale just months after the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Hundreds of people are expected to descend on the town to bid for the birds – 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 director Kevin Lines said: 'We love the Christmas poultry sale, as it really marks the start of the festive season for us – and for the many, many people who come to the sale to buy the bird which will be on their Christmas Day table.

'It is really nice to bring together local producers and local consumers, especially in these days when people want to know where their food has come from. It remains very popular with farmers and producers, as well as those who come to bid.

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'Unlike much supermarket poultry, those coming to our sale will know exactly who has raised their bird, and in many cases will be able to chat with the producer themselves.

'Our business has been transformed in recent years by innovations such as online bidding, but it is good to see some traditions living on and remaining very popular.'

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.

Now in its 66th year, the Keys' annual Christmas poultry sale takes place on Thursday, December 20 from 11am. Viewing of the birds on offer starts at 9am on the morning of the sale.

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