How to Tan a Sheepskin Naturally



< back

The whole process of tanning begins naturally with the sheep.  As with all animals, especially livestock, in order to get the most out of them, you need to put effort into the care of them.  As with all products, you only get what you put into it. Animal husbandry involves not just the keeping of an animal, but the care, cultivation and breeding of such.

When dealing with sheep that are bred for meat products, they are often slaughtered for their animal skins as well, as a precious product that has multiple benefits and uses.  In the case of the sheepskin tannery service produced by Organic Sheepskins, they insist on producing sheepskins that they know will be of the best quality. They achieve this by ensuring that any sheepskins that they tan are within the ‘use by date’ of the animal.  What does this mean?  Well, sheep naturally shed their fleece after a period of time and therefore any skins that are taken during this period will show signs of moulting, damage and general poor quality.  However, Organic Sheepskins work to ensure that the skin is tanned within a year of the sheep’s birth, or within a year of its last shearing.  The breed of the sheep depends on the timescale farmers and shepherds will have to work towards.  But, the professional sheepskin tanning service at Organic Sheepskins, will be only too happy to help with any queries regarding the matter.  It is better to ask for advice on this in order to ensure you get true value for money and receive only the best service possible.  Please do not accept poor quality products from anyone. 

As Organic Sheepskins are an ‘on farm’ tannery, they know what is needed to produce and maintain the highest quality available.  As one of the last remaining sheepskin processing companies in England, they rightly pride themselves on their standards.    Organic Sheepskins is also the only organically registered sheepskin tannery business in England, using no nasty chemicals or pollutants in the tanning process.

After the hide has been removed the next part of the process involves ‘fleshing out’ the hide (removing any of the flesh or meat still remaining on the skin), treating and curing the skin (using salt), and stretching it out.  After a period of time the main process of tanning the hide or sheepskin can begin. This takes months to achieve using the organic method rather than using synthetic processes, which is a lot quicker.  Needless to say, the organic treatments are of a much higher standard.  Using only organic chemicals therefore, the tanning process can begin.

At a time when farming in general can be a difficult job, and is under some threat from external sources, this process and ancient craft is a precious thing, and if you would like to find out more about the tanning industry, click on A business for you? Or check out the workshop pictures to see some of the processes for yourself.