Back to Ba­sics

Sell­ing hides can add to your over­all profit mar­gin, so it pays to pro­tect them.

Farmer's Weekly (South Africa) - - Contents - FW

– Pre­par­ing an­i­mal hides for mar­ket COVER

– Why does maize lodge?

In the leather trade, ‘hide’ refers to the skin of large an­i­mals such as cat­tle, whereas ‘skin’ refers to the skin of small­stock.

If you wish to make some money out of sell­ing hides, you will have to take care of your an­i­mals from the day they are born. A hide can eas­ily be dam­aged by in­juries caused by horns and fences, ticks, and poor han­dling and skin­ning prac­tices.

This means you should de­horn the an­i­mals and herd them cor­rectly; if they are fright­ened, they can run into barbed wire fences, which can tear the hide and cause se­vere in­jury. It also means not cut­ting the hides un­nec­es­sar­ily at skin­ning and fol­low­ing proper preser­va­tion prac­tice.

With in­for­mal slaugh­ter­ing, min­imise stress and in­jury by stun­ning the an­i­mal in a con­ve­nient pad­dock where it has been graz­ing for some days. Then quickly cut the jugu­lar to al­low the car­cass to bleed out. Slaugh­ter it in the early morn­ing or late even­ing when it is cool. This is more hy­gienic as far as meat prepa­ra­tion is con­cerned, and also helps pre­vent the hide from rot­ting. Do not slaugh­ter in di­rect sun­light.

Start skin­ning as soon as pos­si­ble af­ter the an­i­mal has been killed.

The di­a­gram shows the rec­om­mended cut­ting lines, as sug­gested by the KwaZulu-Natal Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment.

Cut along the cut­ting lines with a sharp knife, then re­move the hide from the car­cass by forc­ing one hand, clenched into a fist with the knuck­les for­ward, in be­tween the hide and the car­cass while us­ing your other hand to pull the hide away from the car­cass.

A knife should be used to de­tach the hide from the car­cass only where it re­mains tightly at­tached. If in doubt, ask an ex­pert for help.

salt­ing: prefer­able to dry­ing

Clean the hide be­fore the blood and meat stick­ing to it dry. Wash off the blood and re­move any pieces of fat or meat with a sharp knife, tak­ing care not to dam­age the in­ner sur­face.

Although a hide can be dried in a frame or on a rack in a cool, shady place, it is bet­ter to pre­serve it by salt­ing (cur­ing).

To do this, lay the hide open on a dry, flat area with the hair side un­der­neath. Sprin­kle coarse salt lib­er­ally over the meat side and rub it in well. Use at least half the weight of the wet

hide in salt. If you don’t know the weight of the hide, 10kg of salt should be enough, un­less the an­i­mal was very large.

Store salted hides in a cool place for 48 hours, then brush off and dis­card the salt and send the hides to a leather mer­chant. If trans­port to a mar­ket is not im­me­di­ately avail­able, the hides should be dried and stored.

A cured hide usu­ally dries quickly and weighs about 50% of its wet weight.


Cured, dried hides can be stored for sev­eral weeks be­fore trans­porta­tion to a pro­cess­ing plant. If pos­si­ble, store them flat, not folded, as leather tends to crack along fold lines. Where fold­ing is nec­es­sary, keep the num­ber of folds to a min­i­mum.

store the hides in a cool, well­ven­ti­lated place out of the sun

Al­ter­na­tively, hang each hide over a pole 75mm to 150mm in di­am­e­ter, flesh side up. A com­mon fold line is along the length of the back, in line with where the spine was, with the hide hang­ing evenly over the pole. Store the hides in a well-ven­ti­lated, cool place away from the sun.

To pre­vent dam­age from in­sects and ro­dents, store hides singly or in stacks on racks at least 10cm off the ground.

Spray­ing with in­sec­ti­cide or paint­ing with dip will pre­vent in­sects from chew­ing the hide. Trap ro­dents or kill them with rat poi­son.

• Source: Beef Pro­duc­tion: The Ba­sics – Hides (fact sheet). KZN Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment. Retrieved from www.kzn­­ages/ Doc­u­ments/RE­SOURCE_­CEN­TRE/ GUIDELINE_ DOC­U­MENTS/ PRODUCTION_ GUIDE­LINES/ Beef_Pro­duc­tion/Hides.pdf.

The nguni guy

ABOVE:A top-qual­ity Nguni hide. To make money from hides, you need to keep hide dam­age to a min­i­mum by de­horn­ing the an­i­mals, herd­ing them cor­rectly to pre­vent barbed wire in­juries, and con­trol­ling ticks.

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