There are mammals that we rear primarily for meat, such as cattle for beef and sheep for lamb. The skins are essentially waste products that are sold on for the making of leather.
Leather produced from the skin of a juvenile cow/bullock. It is usually tanned with chromium salts or vegetable tanned.
The term ‘bull’ and ‘cow’ denote full-grown male and female animals; ‘ox’ and ‘steer’ denote castrated males. The skins from cattle are haired and relatively dense in structure. The fiber of the skin is heavier in the back area compared to the belly.
The best hides are from breeds bred especially for beef (e.g. Aberdeen Angus – tougher, more uniform in thickness, and more square in shape). In comparison, dairy breeds generally give a looser-textured hide, are less square in shape, and are looser or thinner in the belly area. They can be chrome, semi-chrome or vegetable-tanned.
The skin of sheep supports growth of wool so it’s not a protective organ in itself. Sheepskin is very porous, and it contains very little structural fiber. Hair sheep typically come from Ethiopia and warmer climes. The skin of these animals is fine with a tight, strong grain – ideal for fine gloves. The leather is of a higher quality than a normal (wool) sheep). Normally both these skins are vegetable tanned, with a wide variety of grains on to the sheepskins.
GOAT AND KID
Goatskin is produced from fully grown animals and kid skin from younger animals, with the best-quality skin coming from countries with hot, dry climates. Usually chrome tanned but can be vegetable tanned.