Skins: don’t throw good money away!

Make extra profit by salting skins and selling them as soon as possible, writes Roelof Bezuidenhout.

A well-salted dry hide and a poor quality sun-dried hide
Photo: Roelof Bezuidenhout

A hide is an animal skin treated for human use. When an animal is slaughtered on the farm, the skin should be salted immediately to turn it into a hide. But many farmers don’t bother to do this, thinking the cost of the salt (only R1,50/kg) is more than what they can get for the hide.

This simply isn’t true, says Dr Clive Jackson-Moss, manager director of the International School of Tanning Technology in Grahamstown. Farmers can make money from salted skins. “Ideally, medium-size grit salt should be used,” he explains. “Place the skin with the flesh side facing up and cover with salt, making sure it reaches the edges of the skin. Use about 10kg to 15kg of salt for a cow hide and 1kg to 2kg for smaller skins such as sheep or goat.”

More tips
A wet, properly salted skin is the most profitable. So after salting the skin as described, get it to a hides and skins broker as soon as possible. A wet, salted skin is worth much more than one dried in the sun. It is also worth more than a salted skin that has been allowed to dry on the farm, as these skins are often damaged by rats or beetles during storage.

The difference between a wet, salted skin and a dried skin is about R100 in the case of a Merino hide and R65 in the case of a Dorper hide. (These prices are for slaughtered skins. Skins from animals that have died will be classed as ‘damaged’ and be worth very little as they may have started to rot.)

Skins that have been mechanically removed from the carcass will fetch a higher price than hand-skinned hides as they tend to have fewer holes in them. But if you are careful, you can easily hand-skin a hide without damaging it. All you need to do is take a bit of extra care – and use a knife with a rounded tip instead of a sharp one.

If you become a hides and skins merchant, you can make even more money by collecting salted skins in your area and delivering them to brokers in the bigger centres.

For more information, contact 046 622 7310 or email [email protected].