Where to get your Christmas turkey - without going to a supermarket
With less than a week to go before Christmas dinners go into the oven, markets and sale rooms around the region are preparing to auction the freshest and finest festive poultry in the time-honoured fashion.
• Diss Auction Rooms on Roydon Road, has been the venue for TW Gaze's annual Christmas Poultry Show and Sale since 1857.
On Tuesday, about 250 turkeys, geese, chickens and ducks will be on sale, either oven-ready or rough-plucked, and all from local farmers within a 20-mile radius of the town.
Before the birds are sold they are all judged – and the best bird of the show will usually bring a premium as bidders battle to buy the champion turkey for their Christmas table.
Jenna Goodall Browne, rural business surveyor at TW Gaze, said: 'The birds are all locally reared are sold as close to Christmas as possible so that they are fresh and ready for the Christmas dinner table – and they don't take too much room in the fridge for long.'
The sale usually attracts up to 300 members of the public, and this year's honorary judges are David Thacker and Matthew Ward of Crown Chicken based at Weybread, near Diss.
Judging begins from 2.30pm on Tuesday, public viewing opens at 4pm and the sale will run from 5pm to 8pm.
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• Norwich Livestock Market, on Hall Road, will be holding its Christmas Poultry Sale on Monday.
There are expected to be about 500 lots for sale including turkeys, chickens, ducks and geese.
Penelope Lucas, one of the market's directors, said: 'It is a really fun way of buying your Christmas poultry the old-fashioned way.
'There will be long-legged and oven-ready birds on display. It is all quality local produce, and a lot of it is over-stock from people who provide poultry for the supermarkets.
'It is a very successful sale in Norwich and we see lots of customers who don't come down to our other sales. People come and bid and they might not really know what they are doing, but we encourage them and the atmosphere is just fabulous.
'I can really recommend it, even if you have never done it before.'
The market opens for entries at 2pm on Monday. The public can view the birds from 5.30pm before the sale begins at 6.30pm.
• Aylsham will also have a traditional poultry sale on Monday, held at Keys' saleground off Palmers Lane.
The Christmas tradition, which is now in its 62nd year, will attract hundreds of bidders as more than 400 turkeys, geese, chickens and ducks from local producers go under the hammer.
The annual sale dates back to 1953, when Geoffrey Key held the first Christmas sale at the same location. It is traditionally the company's last sale of the year.
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.'
The Keys annual Christmas Poultry Sale takes place from 11am on Monday. Viewing of the birds starts at 8.30am.
• Swaffham auctioneers have two festive poultry sales remaining before Christmas. One will be held from 11am today at Swaffham Racetrack and another will be at Eldon Farm, Holywell Row, from 10.45am on Wednesday.
Auctioneer Fabian Eagle said this will be a special year for him.
'It will be my 25th year of auctioning Christmas poultry which means I have sold approximately 20,000 Christmas dinners. I have been involved with poultry all my life and was taught how to pluck virtually as soon as I could walk.
'We are expecting to have about 300 birds for Saturday's sale. There will be a good selection of turkeys, geese and ducks, and we have been assured that we will have several large cockerels going 14lb-plus.
'Swaffham is a one-stop Christmas shop and some people still like to make it a family event to come and pick their Christmas dinner.
'They can get their vegetables and sprouts in the market place, and they can get their poultry from me.'