THE Hexham and Northern Marts' Christmas poultry sale was cancelled this year following directive from the Livestock Auctioneers' Association (LAA).

And while a disappointment, auctioneer Jack Walton said that public health was far more important in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

He said: "We're just trying to protect ourselves and protect other people, we don't want to unnecessarily bring lots of people together."

Jack explained that while livestock sales have still been able to go ahead, Christmas poultry sales are 'a bit different' as more people than usual attend and are not always the familiar faces often seen ringside. "Our livestock sales are different because it's part of the food chain, our Christmas poultry sale is a bit different. It's vital we keep our livestock markets open to sell all our stock in the most open way possible, in a competitive, live ring."

As well as growing concerns around a new strain of Covid-19, the show was also affected by the avian flu outbreak which has seen big farms go down and has led to a national shortage of turkey.

National Covid-19 restrictions also meant that families were unable to meet in large groups, with many choosing to reduce the size of their turkey accordingly.

The mart was, however, still able to offer its services although not through the traditional route of an auction, with buyers able to contact producers directly via their office.

Despite this year's cancellation, the first in many years, there are high hopes for 2021 with poultry sales already scheduled.

The mart has invested heavily in Covid security.