Christmas parties may be reduced this year, but turkeys still have their place at the table – having had a record-breaking trade for most producers and sellers across the country.

Specialist farm butcher, Michael Shannon of Damn Delicious, Thankerton, is one that has had that record-breaking year for the traditional Christmas bird.

“It has been a mental year for us, selling out earlier than ever and that is despite having sold 15% more birds on the year. This is the most we have ever sold, we even started selling Turkeys as early as August, having sold out three weeks ago, which is a lot earlier than usual for us – the demand is unreal, it has been a bumper of a year,” said Mr Shannon, explaining that the initial scare that turkeys were going to be scarce helped with the early demand for them.

“The general public want to know where their food is coming from and are seen to be supporting their local butchers. By buying local, they are able to come on farm to meet the farmer, the butchers and having that total provenance to see the whole supply chain of their food security – it is all part of the experience for them and reducing that education gap.

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Mr Shannon added: “We sell turkeys all across the UK, but the issue this year has relied upon the courier. Deliveries have had a huge knock-on effect with the ongoing pandemic and not having the staff to fulfil orders. We have also seen a huge spike in online orders which will be the same for all industries, it is an increasing demand we need to be on top of.

“The other huge worry for us has been the Avian bird flu outbreak but we have been very lucky that it has not impacted us this time! Although we did have to close the birds inside from the end of November which is not the way we would have preferred but we have got to be realistic in a situation like that. I only had the run up to Christmas to worry about, it is the free-range egg producers that we feel sorry for,” concluded Mr Shannon.

On Tuesday Harrison and Hetherington held their annual Christmas poultry Sale at St Boswells, where Turkeys sold to £105.

“All classes were short of buyers requirements this year. It is all about supply and demand, and the demand has outweighed the supply this year,” said auctioneer, Andrew Hutcheson.

“Local butchers have sold a lot more than usual too, with even some on our buyers list this week because they can’t source enough turkeys for their customers,” concluded Andrew.

Speaking ahead of Harrison and Hetherington’s rough plucked and dressed poultry sale at Carlisle was trainee auctioneer, Paul Gardner based at Carlisle.

“A sale is always hard to predict especially one that only happens once a year, but we have got to remain hopeful that the sale will be good this Christmas. Numbers are well up on two years ago for our turkey sale due to other markets around us not having their sales this year.

“On the flip side the demand is there to meet that supply as well. People enjoy getting turkey all year round so there will be people buy it for throughout the year, farmers are looking forward to getting to the sale and seeing what high-end produce are available,” said Paul.

Paul added: “Consumers are moving towards supporting local produce and buying fresh turkey rather than frozen crowns, so, we are positive. Bird Flu has not had a huge affect on the sale this year, for farmers that are our main market for this sale they understand the procedure and are fine with the prospects, perhaps we will have lost some of the general public due to bad publicity.”

Further North at Lanark Auction Market, Lawrie and Symington sold 302 birds at their annual Christmas sale of oven ready, rough plucked, turkeys, geese, pheasants and partrigdes.

Trade was firm throughout with plenty of buyers in demand, selling to a top of £140 for a 13kg oven ready turkey from Kilnhills followed by £102 for a 7.7kg oven ready turkey from Haswellsykes.