Very few birds are used for leather. Ostrich, emu, and chicken are all farmed for their meat and their skin is a by-product which is then tanned to make leather.


A clutch bag made from chicken leather

Chicken feet are the only parts of the bird that are tanned. They look slightly scaly and reptilian but are smooth to the touch. Chicken gives a thin, papery leather that is used mainly for small leather goods and is often patchworked.


Gucci Camel Madison Medium Tote bag in ostrich leather

Ostrich is referred to as an exotic leather. It is easily recognizable by the raised bumps on the surface of the leather pattern caused by its quill sockets. These bumps are localized in the center of the skin and only one-third of the skin has these bumps – the area known as the crown. The leather is flexible, pliable, durable, and soft to the touch. It has a tight grain structure and is very strong. The average size of a skin is 16 sq. ft. (15 sq. m.).

Ostrich legs are also tanned and have become popular for their exotic, reptilian appearance. The shins have platelets down the front of them and the legs often have claws left on, sometimes used as a design feature. The legs measure approximately 20 in. (50 cm= in length and 5 in. (12.5 cm) in width.


Hermès Birkin in Emu Leather

Emu leather is very similar to ostrich leather but the skin is completely covered in raised imprints left from the feather follicle structure, which makes it easily identifiable. The average size of an emu skin is 6-7 sq. ft. (0-6-0-7 sq.m.)