The value of coloured skins
On average half the lambs born to a flock are male. As only one ram is needed for a number of ewes the others are usually sent to an abattoir for meat, also producing the skins. Skins or pelts are a potentially valuable bye-product, especially if they are coloured and patterned. Two skins that are identical in colour and pattern are even more so.
Home curing coloured skins
Skins need to be salted very quickly after slaughter to stop bacteria removing the wool. The skins are normally sent to specialist tanning companies. It is possible however to cure and tan the skins at home using a number of different recipes. The most important factors are to fix the wool onto the skin and to make the skin supple. These processes are not expensive but they are time consuming. The advantage of home curing is that the length of the fleece is immaterial whereas the commercial tanners find it difficult to cope with fleece that is longer than 4 inches.
Commercially cured skins
Many breeds produce beautiful Sheepskin rugs. Gotland sheep, in particular have been developed specifically for pelts. Commercially cured skins and pelts can be made into a variety of goods including jackets, slippers and hats.