IT'S OFFICIAL – following weeks upon weeks considering the rules and regulations surrounding social distancing and negotiations with auction markets and the Scottish Government, this year's Kelso Ram Sales have finally been cancelled as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

With infection rates falling, it had been hoped restrictions would ease sufficiently in time for the sales to continue. However, they were cancelled earlier this week.

As the UK's largest one-day sale of breeding rams, the Border Union Kelso Ram Sales had again attracted a huge entry of more than 5000 shearling and ram lambs, which will now have to be sold through the seven auctioneering companies that would normally sell at the event.

Stuart Craig, chairman of the Ram Sales, said: "It is with great regret that we have to announce the cancellation of the 2020 Closamectin Border Union Kelso Ram Sales. Our trustees and ram sale committee looked at all available options of how we could have held the sale safely under Covid-19 restrictions. However, due to public health concerns, the safety of our sellers, buyers, staff, contractors and volunteers must come first.

"Although Covid-19 restrictions are gradually being lifted we continue to see localised outbreaks, proving the risks are still significant. There is also the continued threat of a second wave of infection. We have a wider responsibility as a society to support the nationwide effort against this disease. If our sale was to go ahead, a positive tracing could implicate thousands of people.

"We realise this decision will be a huge disappointment to most, and it was one that we really didn’t want to make," said Mr Craig.

Neil Wilson, chief executive of the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland, who has been working closely with the Scottish Government and Scotland’s auction marts to manage the pandemic, added that while there has been some relaxation of the pandemic lockdown, Scotland is still on high alert for a second wave of infections.

"Our sector, like all others in the Scottish economy, needs to closely consider all the risks surrounding the safety of people at public gatherings," said Mr Wilson.

"The decision to cancel the 2020 Border Union Kelso Ram Sale was made due to public health concerns surrounding Covid-19 and the compliance with the Government’s social distancing rules.

"We understand how disappointing it is for Border Union to cancel the iconic Ram Sale, and for all those people who planned to sell stock and attend the sale; however we are fully supportive of the decision their trustees and committee have made.

"As with all of Scotland’s livestock marts, Border Union must put the safety of their sellers, buyers, staff, contractors and volunteers first," said Mr Wilson.

IAAS is working with its members on contingency plans to hold ram sales given the cancellation of the Kelso Sales.

See page 18 for some new sale dates following the cancellation of the Kelso Ram Sales