Last update: November 22, 2010 11:15:42 AM E-mail Print





1M.A. Snyman, 2C.A. Jackson-Moss

1Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute, P/Bag X529, Middelburg, 5900, South Africa

2International School of Tanning Technology, P.O. Box 2085, Grahamstown, 6140 


A project in which the tanning properties of skins of ten different South African woolled, mutton and dual purpose sheep breeds were evaluated, was done by Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute, in co-operation with the Tannery Division of the Leather Industries Research Institute (LIRI) in Grahamstown. Skins of the following breeds of the extensive sheep grazing areas were evaluated at marketing age of the different breeds, namely Merino (wool), Afrino (composite indigenous mutton & wool breed), Dormer (composite indigenous mutton & wool breed) Hair type Dorper (composite indigenous mutton breed), Wool type Dorper (composite indigenous mutton breed), Namaqua Afrikaner (indigenous fat tail mutton breed), Damara (indigenous fat tail mutton breed), Blackhead Persian (fat rump mutton breed), Speckled Persian (fat rump mutton breed) and Van Rooy sheep (indigenous fat tail mutton breed).

Eight skins of each breed were evaluated. Two skins were processed with the wool on, and six were tanned through to nappa leather for final testing and visual evaluation. The following physical properties were evaluated on the nappa leather: tensile strength, extension at grain crack, extension at grain break, slit tear strength and the lastometer test. These tests give an indication of the strength of the leather as well as the amount that the leather could be stretched before the upper grain layers crack, which will cause damage to the surface of the leather. After processing of the skins to undyed crust, the skins were shaved down to a thickness of 0.7 - 0.9 mm. After shaving, the skins were dyed and sampled in the butt region and physical tests carried out on the samples.

From the physical test results it is evident that Merino leather performed significantly poorer than most of the other breeds, while Damara leather was significantly stronger than some of the other breeds tested. It is further evident that, with the exception of Merino skins, there is very little difference among breeds with regard to the quality of the leather produced from their skins. Skins from all these breeds are well suited to be processed into clothing leather. The lack of sufficient numbers of skins from Damara, Namaqua, Van Rooy and Persian sheep, contribute to the fact that Dorper skins are the most popular and sought after in the industry.



SNYMAN, M.A. & JACKSON-MOSS, C.A.,  2000. A comparison of leather properties of skins from ten different South African sheep breeds. Grootfontein Agric, 2(2) : 17-21