The following is offered courtesy of Barry Banks of Banks Brothers, a hide broker in Canada. This is offered to the reader to provide information regarding "rawhides" as used in the production of US Style "Western" Skirting Leather. (added 06-09-09)
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON RAWHIDES
There are many reasons why Ontario and Quebec cattlehides are superior to the cattlehides of US origin. The two major factors are breed type and the manner in which the cattle are raised.
While in the US the major breed of cattle is Black Angus, in Canada the predominant breeds are European continental: Charolais, Limousin and Simmental. The European breeds are larger, have brown and red hair and have better grain characteristics. The biggest problem with the black hides from the Angus animals is veininess which is a result of the veins being too close to the skin surface in order to more effectively cool the animals down in hot weather. The Canadian hides do not suffer this defect to anywhere near the same extent.
In the US, all cattle are placed in outdoor feedlots for fattening prior to slaughter. In Ontario, all cattle are kept indoors for feeding. During winter months extremely cold temperatures can be stressful to the animals so being shielded from the elements is a benefit. In spring and fall (wet seasons) the feedlots become “mudlots” and the animals are covered in mud and manure which aside from being stressful to the animal is also the vehicle for breeding of e.coli bacteria.
In Ontario, the typical farm has 300-400 head of cattle while in the USA a feedlot can have 80,000-100,000 head of cattle at any given time. With smaller herds it is possible to keep animals cleaner, respond to illnesses faster, change bedding more often and provide an overall higher standard of care. This is simply impossible when dealing with the huge numbers kept in the American feedlots.
In Ontario, branding of cattle is virtually non-existent whereas in the USA, branding occurs in the vast majority of cases. Branding is painful to the animal, results in scarring and in some cases the animals can become ill for a period after the branding.
Wickett & Craig of America only uses 100% unbranded hides from cattle raised in Ontario and Quebec. All cattlehides are carefully selected and supplied by their parent company Bank Bros & Son Ltd, Toronto, Canada. Bank Bros & Son Ltd is the largest processor of cattlehides in Canada with sales in excess of 3MM hides per year.
(note from Steven Siegel: We are currently using these hides, in the production of a new line of "Skirting Leather" tanned for us at Wickett & Craig. They are tanned with a very different formulation from W&C"s current production, exclusively by contract, available from only Siegel of California)