Thursday, August 15, 2019

4-H Pelt Project

The pelts (hides, skins) from the lambs in the comparison study of ram, wether, and short-scrotum lambs are being used in a 4-H Entrepreneurship Program, under the leadership of Ashley Travis, 4-H Youth Educator in Washington County, and Dr. Jesse Ketterman, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator for the Western Maryland Cluster.

The pelts were retrieved immediately after slaughter at Old Line Custom Meat Company (in Baltimore). They were salted generously and laid on top of each other for transport. Upon arrival to the Western Maryland Research & Education Center, the pelts were lightly salted again, re-stacked, and held overnight in a cooler.

The following day, the pelts were taken to the local fairgrounds where they were stretched out on wooden pelts and re-salted (even more generously). Pelts were trimmed to removed flesh and excess body parts.The pelts will be dried for approximately 2 weeks before being transported to Bucks County Fur Products, Inc. (in Quakertown, PA) for professionally tanning. Bucks County Fur specializes in the tanning of sheep, goat, and deer hides.

Youth will sell the finished pelts, hopefully for a profit, after expenses have deducted. As part of the entrepreneurship program, youth learned how to develop their own business plans. They will give oral presentations to share their business plans. The youth are mostly 12-13 years of age.

Pelts immediately after slaughter

Initial salting of pelts in the back of a pickup truck

Stacked and ready to go

Stretched and salted for drying

Ordinarily, pelts are a waste product of lamb production, unless producers decide to tan their own hides. For innovative producers, pelts are a way to add value to a lamb and increase the profitability of sheep rearing. Professionally tanned sheep hides can fetch good prices, especially if they are from large sheep (or lambs) with long, colorful fleeces.

In the past, pelts (especially those from unshorn fine wool lambs) had a significant value and were an important source of income for lamb processors. Currently, lamb pelts are selling for a low price and many processors simply discard them. The high value of the US dollar (against international currencies) is one reason given for their low commercial value.

Weekly Lamb Pelt Price Report

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