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Effect of age on leather and skin traits of slaughter ostriches

SWP Cloete
SJ Van Schalkwyk
LC Hoffman
A Meyer


Little is known about the factors affecting leather and skin traits in ostriches. The effect of age on physical skin traits of slaughter ostriches was consequently investigated. Forty skins representing slaughter ages ranging from five to 14 months were selected to represent means of the respective age groups with regard to skin size and slaughter weight. It was evident that leather thickness increased with age. A similar tendency was observed for tensile strength. The number of nodules/dmฒ declined by 2.8 nodules per month increase in slaughter age. Average nodule diameter increased at a rate of 0.08 mm per month of age. The number of nodules/dmฒ decreased towards body positions situated nearer to the ventral aspect of the ostrich (upper leg and lower flank). Positions nearer to the centre back had more nodules/dmฒ. The nodules on the neck and mid-crown area were smaller in diameter than those situated on the other body positions, with little difference between the upper leg, lower flank and butt positions. Repeatability estimates for the physical skin traits were in the medium to high range. Age thus affects physical leather traits to a lesser extent, apart from leather thickness. It does, however, exert an important influence on the nodule traits that were considered, and needs to be considered in the marketing of ostrich leather.

Key Words: Leather thickness, Nodule diameter, Nodule distribution, Slit tear strength, Tensile strength

SA Jnl Animal Sci Vol.34(2) 2004: 80-86