What do falconers, welders, and motorcycle riders all have in common? They all rely on leather goods to protect them from harm. These thick protective leathers most likely came from steers, bulls, or oxen.
What is the difference between a bull, an ox, or a steer and what is it about these animals that make their hides so thick and durable?
Bulls are perhaps the most familiar animals. They are intact males that are kept for breeding purposes, which give them longer lifespans than other types of cattle. Longer lifespans combined with stereotypically stubborn temperaments can result in hides that have grain defects from varieties of healed wounds.
Steers are different from bulls because they are castrated at a young age and are raised primarily for the meat industry. Being raised for meat means that a steer has a shorter lifespan than a bull. Steer skins have similar thicknesses to bull hides, but they have fewer grain defects because the animals are younger and have more even temperaments than bulls do.
Oxen are males that have been trained to pull plows or carts. These animals can reach sexual maturity before being castrated to ensure that they have the greatest amount of muscle development possible. Because these animals are prized for their strength, they are the same size or larger than their bull counterparts.
Uses for Male Cattle Hides
Because of these differences in age and use the hides of a bull and steer are quite different from that of an ox. Steer skins are like cow skins except they are usually thicker and slightly larger than cow hides. Steer skins usually have very even grains that produce beautifully finished products. Because steer skins are so plentiful and produce such consistent high-quality leather, they are in many items ranging from garments to shoe soles.
Bull skins have areas of wrinkled skin on their shoulders and are slightly thicker on the belly side than on the back. Bull hide leather also has a coarser grain and that gives a deep texture to the leather. Oxen on the other hand have a tighter skin that has fewer wrinkles and is thicker over the back of the animal and thinner on the belly. The grain of ox hide leather is much more uniform and fine texture that produces a more even piece of leather. Either hide type will produce a heavy leather that is ideal for industrial or protective uses.
When making your leather products IC Markets International Ltd has a large supply of skins and hides available to you. For any project that may need a softer touch a cow hide will give you the same protection but a shorter breaking in period. Sheep skins can also be used on the inside of your leather products to provide an extra layer of warmth and comfort against the skin. All these hides are also available treated to a wet blue cure to help you finish your projects faster.