February 5, 2016

New Zealand farming. Hides and skins – Glossary of terms

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Dr Clive Dalton

Cockle: Defect in a lamb or sheep pelt  seen as nodules that have developed over the pelt surface.  Can be prevented by appropriate dipping.

Dressing skin:  Woolly lamb skin, which is suitable for processing into leather after all wool has been removed.

Fellmongery: Factory or department in abattoir or freezing works where wool is removed from lamb and sheep skins.

Grain: Surface layer of a pelt, hide or leather containing and showing wool or hair follicles.

Green skin: Undried skin from a farm or slaughter facility, which does not have long-term keeping quality.

Hide:  Skin from a mature cattle beast or calf.  Also used in deer.

Liming: Alkali chemical treatment of a hide or pelt to make it softer and pliable

Paint:  Chemical mixture to penetrate the skin to loosen wool. 

Painting: Applying paint by spray or other means to the flesh side of  a sheep skin to remove the wool.

Pelt: A lamb or sheepskin after wool has been removed.

Pickled pelt:  Lamb or sheep pelt preserved for export with brine and sulphuric acid.

Pinhole:  Defect in a lamb or sheep pelt seen as small holes in the pelt grain caused by wool fibres growing in groups, and most prevalent in fine wool breeds.

Rawhide:  See green skin.

Ribby pelts:  Pelts of wrinkly sheep breeds such as Merinos, which greatly restricts their value.

Skin: Derived from sheep, goat, deer, opossum or rabbit (not cattle).

Slink: Skin from young dead lamb or fawn in utero or just newborn.


Skins from these dead lambs (slinks) will be processed for high quality gloves.

Slipemaster:  Machine used to recover wool from pelt trimmings in a Fellmongery.

Slipe wool: Wool recovered by a wool puller, after chemically loosened with sodium, sulphide and hydrated lime mixture.

Sweating:  Method of dewoolling skins which depends on induced bacterial degradation to loosen the wool. Used mainly in France.

Wet blue: Hide or skin tanned with chromium salts and kept in a wet state, which also make it a blue-green colour.

Wool pull: The estimated weight of wool able to be removed from a skin.

Wool puller:  Person or machine who removes the wool from a lamb or sheep skin after it has been chemically loosened.

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