Hides as raw material
The purpose of the hide to the living animal is to accomplish several essential functions. Beside protecting the body from injuries and climatic and environmental influences its temperature is regulated through the skin. An additional property that is common to wild animals is the camouflaging effect that is obtained by a variety of appointed colors and patterns. Beside insects almost all species of animals provide a hide or skin, that is suitable for the manufacturing of leather, but skins of some appointed species, such as certain reptiles are subject to the Washington Agreement on Preservation of Species and the use of such skins for the making of leather is prohibited.
Today the majority of leathers are made from the hides of farmed animals and only a minor amount is made out of hides from wild animals. The raw hides and skins are provided as a by-product of the meat industry. Over the years the demand for meat has increased and correspondingly has the amount of raw hides that are available to the leather industry. Even so the meat is still the key product of this industry, the raw hides turned into a trading product with a considerable potential. Along with the world wide accessibility of raw hides and skins, the types of leather produced in a particular area are often a matter of tradition and linked to the available hides and skins of domestic animals from this region.
An attribute of this natural material is the diversity of available species and their differences in shape, thickness, size, histological structure and structural surface, caused primarily by the species. Even within one sort of hides huge differences can be observed. These variations are caused by age and sex of the animal, furthermore by special breeding for the production of, e.g. meat, milk or wool. But also environmental and climatic conditions affect these parameters. The structure, size and thickness are decisive factors as well, when selecting the raw hides for the leather, respectively the article that will be produced.