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Author Topic: Sheepskins  (Read 11713 times)


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Sheepskins
« Reply #30 on: May 10, 2013, 06:03:35 pm »
Am I right in thinking you need a form, certificate or to contact Defra before you can get the skins back?

It tells you all about that for England in the Eblex doc I linked to - not sure if/how the rules would differ in other countries.

Found an Eblex leaflet on salting sheepskins

If that link stops working, it's (currently) listed on the Better Returns - Sheep Literature page under 'Action for Profit Sheets'
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing
Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Dumfries and Galloway
    • hawthornsoaysandjacobs
    • Facebook
Re: Sheepskins
« Reply #31 on: May 10, 2013, 06:13:08 pm »

Thanks i'm in Scotland and have only lighlty researched tanning, I'll catch up on the links here too  when I've got a bit more time, but thanks SallyintheNorth this is an interesting thread to follow!  :sunshine:

Granny A

  • Joined Jul 2013
Re: Sheepskins
« Reply #32 on: July 21, 2013, 12:04:07 pm »
Fenland ceased trading in March 2011. Devonia use chrome and chemicals, Organic Sheepskins (Nicki Port) uses a bark veg tan, no chemicals. Any DIY needs a license from Defra same as the "big boys" AB 117. Salt petre and alum not an option due to aluminium sulphate banned by EU. Brain tan not an option as brains can't be used due to BSE regulations. Need a commercial document to retrieve skins from the abattoir.


  • Joined May 2013
Re: Sheepskins
« Reply #33 on: July 21, 2013, 12:22:51 pm »
i tried to do this with sheepskins 5 yrs ago when bluetongue was around but i wasnt allowed.
how exactly do you do it in scotland? do you have to wait at abattoir for the skins, take home, salt and post?
does your premises need to be licensed to handle raw skin?
id be interested as i gave up at the time but was really keen to do it. id like some goat / cattle skins actually.


  • Joined Dec 2010
  • Talley, Carmarthenshire
Re: Sheepskins
« Reply #34 on: July 21, 2013, 12:49:47 pm »
I spoke to Nicki Port at the Royal Welsh Spring Festival. she said get the skins home and put salt on them to drain the moisture away. You might need to do this a couple of times. Then double bag them in bin bags and then in a box and write on the outside, something like, animal waste (can't remember the exact wording) then post them off.
You need a doc from Animal Health to get the skins back from the abattoir. Attached is the doc that AH Wales sent me. In Scotland yours is likely to be different but this just gives you an idea,
Life is like a bowl of cherries, mostly yummy but some dodgy bits


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Sheepskins
« Reply #35 on: July 21, 2013, 03:59:15 pm »
i tried to do this with sheepskins 5 yrs ago when bluetongue was around but i wasnt allowed.
how exactly do you do it in scotland? do you have to wait at abattoir for the skins, take home, salt and post?
does your premises need to be licensed to handle raw skin?
id be interested as i gave up at the time but was really keen to do it. id like some goat / cattle skins actually.

Depends how far from the abattoir you live.   We go home, having asked what time they will be killed, then pop back as they are going through.  This means the skins are freshly removed so we can get home to get salt on within the recommended 2 hours.  The longer you leave them before putting salt on the more chance there is of wool slip during the tanning process.
You need to collect them in tied bin bags or other secure containers.   When you get them home they must be salted somewhere none of your livestock can reach them, with a separate entrance.
I spread mine out, skin up, on a large board (plywood covered in sheets of polythene.  Usually the board is balanced on a zigzag of hurdles, although the drips of salty fluid do tend to react with the metal.   I kit myself up in big rubber gloves and a waterproof pinny, plus of course a 25kg sack of vacuum packed salt from the agric merchant.
Remove by scraping any stray bits of flesh from the skin, spread the salt in a layer thick enough that you can't see pink through it, rubbing it in thoroughly right into the corners, and unroll any rolled bits.  Open up the legs and tail and remove the purse from entire males.  Skins can be stacked three or four high, fleece down, skin up.  Cover loosely with polythene (keeps off rodents and helps keep out atmospheric moisture).  Leave to drip over the edge onto straw or similar which can be burnt afterwards.
Whenever pink shows through, add more salt on top.   How long this takes depends on the outside temp and humidity, but I have found somewhere between one and three weeks.  At the end of that time shake off all the salt, then rub in a thin layer.   Roll the skins tightly, with skin side to skin side, double bag in heavy duty polythene sacks such as feed sacks, then send off.
By removing as much liquid as you can, then shaking off the wet salt, you are making the parcel as light as possible for carriage costs.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2013, 04:01:42 pm by Fleecewife »

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  • Joined Feb 2012
  • South Lincolnshire
Re: Sheepskins
« Reply #36 on: July 21, 2013, 11:15:31 pm »
I believe there are other methods besides brain such as egg and soap and oil? May be talking from my posterior though  ;D


  • Joined Oct 2012
  • Fettercairn, Aberdeenshire
Re: Sheepskins
« Reply #37 on: July 22, 2013, 01:16:07 pm »
We've just home slaughtered our first lamb, and as he was our first, I don't want to waste a thing!
Hence the offal sitting in the fridge for haggis, the stomachs soaking in brine for tripe for the dog, and am working the sheepskin into a lovely rug  :fc:
I researched quite a bit before the day, so as to be ready. has quite a few discussions on tanning, mostly deerskins, but certainly sheep too.
They have recipes for chemical tanning, brain tanning or using eggs (quite useful for smallholders I'd have thought!)
I'm going for the brain tanning since it was home slaughter and available.
Currently I'm fleshing the skin today - using a blunt axe while the skin is stretched in the frame, it seems to be working well, with a sharp knife for the odd stubborn bit.
My next step will be working in the brain for tanning, and it looks like it's perfectly fine to do it from the one side so as to leave fleece on.
Then it needs working, stretching and rubbing the brain in for a long time until the entire hide is dry, soft and supple.
Then it will be smoked so as to retain the suppleness, and finally washed to take out the smoke and dirt.
 :fc: it's worth it, as this is supposed to be my week of holidays lol
Will post pictures as I go along.

Granny A

  • Joined Jul 2013
Re: Sheepskins
« Reply #38 on: September 14, 2013, 05:09:46 pm »
The difference between Devonia and Organic sheepskins is chemicals. Devonia use chrome which is an environmental disaster and Organic sheepskins don't use chemicals but a bark extract. I did the research and asked the questions.  I don't want chemicals in my sheepskins, do you, do your family or customers?. Chrome is quick, cheap and easy the bark extract that Organic Sheepskins use takes 3 times longer to tan. That is why it costs more, but not much, ask Nicki, I did. They are worth a LOT more.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2013, 05:17:07 pm by Granny A »


  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Sheepskins
« Reply #39 on: September 15, 2013, 10:18:09 am »
loving the skyeskyns website - especially the mosaic rugs, hot water bottle covers and Jacob cushions  :excited:


  • Joined Jun 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
  • Loch Arthur and their animals
    • Loch Arthur Farms
Re: Sheepskins
« Reply #40 on: October 17, 2013, 08:44:47 pm »
jus to add some things about that whole business with Organic Sheepskins:\
We have been very happy with them, for years we've been sending our skins down south.

--It only works with the skins of young lambs, after december its too late.
-- to get it back from SCOTTISH Abbatoir, you need to send this document  [size=78%][/size] [/size]to AHVLA, ge it back, pass it to the abbtoir and then you can get your skins back.[size=78%]
[/size]--salting is easy, even I manage that by now,[size=78%]
[/size]--sending them, each in a bin liner, airtight, I put 5-6 in one parcel[size=78%]
[/size]-- getting asked to pay[size=78%]
[/size]--receive skins.[size=78%][/size]If I send in 5 or six skins, it works out for rougly 42-44pounds each.-- in our farmshop they are sold for a lot more.hope that helps a bit , hannes[size=78%]



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