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The other thread got me wondering: does anyone here tan their own sheepskins or send them out - to a tannery, I suppose? Are there still little tanneries that will do this for you? When we send our sheep off to the processor, what happens to the skins?
 

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I looked into it last year, but it would appear to be very messy and quite the project. I thought perhaps my dad, the ex-trapper, would be up for the challenge with me, but he just laughed and told me to send them out :p
 

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I send mine to Stern Tanning in Sheboygan Falls, WI. They have a website.
I've used other processors, but they are the cheapest, and I like the finished pelts the best.

I think the ones sent to your butcher end up in the rendering barrel. The large processors sell them - likely they end up being shipped to China/Mexico for processing into leather.
As a hint - talk to your butcher - you may be able to get him to save the skins from sheep he butchers and give them to you. If I were closer to my butcher, he's offered to do that for me in the past. They have to pay to get them hauled away. If you do that, make sure he knows to use the steer pattern to cut them, and gets them cooled ASAP so the wool does not slip and come off in patches.

Lisa at Somerhill
www.somerhillfarm.com
 

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I use Stern Tanning as well. Which reminds me I haven't heard from them since I sent in two pelts in January. One is a black Blue-faced leister type. Should be a very interesting pelts.

I usually takes 3-4 months but sometimes longer. I am a small guy compared to the big orders they get. One time I dropped off some pelts for a friend and mine. You should have seen how many pallets stacked five foot high with deer skins waiting to be processed. Clearly they don't need our business.....

btw....I have some nice shetland pelts for sale
 

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make sure he knows to use the steer pattern to cut them, and gets them cooled ASAP so the wool does not slip and come off in patches.
You can say that again. I had a nice icelandic lamb pelt that the butcher just folded up and set aside. They didn't bother to call saying it was ready to pick up or anything; I'd expected to hear from them when they slaughtered the lamb so I could pick up the pelt. Instead I picked it up the next day; they'd folded it and ruined it :grump:
 

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I treid to do one myself and gave up, I really couldn't find the right tools for the job. Geting the fat and flesh from the pelts is the hardest part. Can you guys post links to tanners you use, all the ones around here are ridiculously expensive.
 

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I'm not sure what is "ridiculously expensive." Stern charges by the square inch. My pelts are usually small shetland lamb skins and cost $35 to $45, not including shipping both ways. If you are tanning a skin from one of today's modern "show" lambs I would think you would be paying close to $100 for a white pelt. Look at ebay and you will see that is a very bad investment since white pelts are selling for $10 to $50.

Sometimes I salt them and leave them to dry in the barn (for months) until I have a larger number to be processed. Then I partner with another farm to drive my batch and theirs the 3 hours to Sheboygan Falls. Then one of us drives there to pick them up as well. If you have extra freezer space you can roll up the skin and freeze the pelts. I have mailed both salted pelts and frozen pelts (at the same time). Both types turned out good.
 
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