Any animal hide or skin is of fibrous texture and from the moment of slaughter is liable to decomposition due to bacterial action. This decomposition is only completely stopped when the hide or skin is tanned, but the hide or skin can be temporarily preserved by salting and/or drying. Hides are therefore shipped as Wet Salted, Dry Salted and Dry. These methods of preservation are effective for fairly long periods, provided that the curing or drying has been satisfactorily carried out, and provided that the conditions of storage and transit have not caused the curing or drying to become ineffective.
Climatic conditions at the time of preparation of skins may have some bearing upon the condition and appearance at destination, e.g. skins which have been salted and dried in the heat of the summer may tend to become somewhat over dried and although not damaged are liable to be broken or torn if roughly handled.
Salted skins once having been wetted will readily absorb moisture from the atmosphere. This may on occasions give rise to a wrong impression as to the length of time which has elapsed since the wetting.
Heating - Wet salted hides are liable to decompose through heating if they have not been adequately salted or if they are exposed to high temperatures in stowage or to a fairly high temperature over a fairly long period.
Hides may be lightly cured to preserve them for a comparatively short period, or more thoroughly cured when they are needed to be transported over long distances.
When hides have been in store under salt for a long period they have a stale appearance, and if deterioration has started to set in, the first indication will be looseness of the hair or "hair slip." In advanced cases this would be accompanied by a smell of ammonia and obvious signs of decomposition. Hides which are already stale when shipped will lack much resistance to adverse conditions during transit, and may deteriorate when well-cured fresh hides would not be affected.
This condition of "hair slip" may also arise in hides which have been subjected to heating, as the looseness of the hair is brought about by bacterial action.
Red stains on the flesh side of the hides ("red heat") are also an indication of heating; in early stages this need not signify damage, but in more advanced stages will be accompanied by other signs of damage. When hides are seriously heated, the fibrous structure of the pelt will have been destroyed, with serious results.
This "red heat" may also be found in dry salted hides and skins, but in this case it will usually be seen that such hides or skins have been wetted or have been very damp at some time. It is the result of the action of a salt-loving bacteria, and as bacteria thrive at the expense of the hide substance, the hide substance is being progressively broken down. Contact with iron or copper can be most detrimental.
- Commodity Name:
HIDES AND SKINS