AN ESTIMATED one million turkeys will make the ultimate Christmas sacrifice as a leading poultry breeder confirmed soaring demand in Ireland for free-range birds.
Despite growing interest in 'alternative' Christmas dinner offerings such as goose, rabbit, venison and even wild boar, the vast majority of Irish families will still tuck into a turkey dinner on December 25.
There is now growing demand for 'ancient' species such as the Bronze Turkey, whose sales have soared since 2008.
"It is the busiest Christmas we have ever had," East Ferry Farm operator Robbie Fitzsimmons told the Herald.
"By Christmas Eve we will have sold over 5,000 turkeys and about 350 geese. There has been a lot written about goose for Christmas dinner but turkey still dominates the Irish Christmas table," the Cork farmer said.
Robbie stressed that the number of Irish families looking for free-range turkeys has doubled over the past four years.
"There is a price differential of about €3 or €4 and people are more than willing to pay that for a bird that they know is free range."
Since he started offering the Bronze Turkey species for sale, Robbie has seen demand rise.
"A lot of people reckon the meat is juicier than on a traditional white turkey," he said.
Robbie also said internet has become a powerful Christmas sales ally.