Skins, hides and leather from deer are a valuable co-product of New Zealand venison production. Measurement of skin traits was included in the Deer Progeny Test to evaluate options for genetic selection, and to determine if selection for other production traits risks diminishing the quality of deer skins and leather. Skins of slaughtered eleven-month-old progeny (n=310) from terminal (wapiti crossbred) and maternal (red) sire types were evaluated for 18 different quantitative and qualitative traits throughout processing to pearl-crust leather. All processing was carried out by New Zealand Light Leathers. All traits were analysed using least squares means models with sire as the random term and pre-slaughter live weight as a covariate. For all traits except evenness grade of the pearl-crust leather, the relationship with pre-slaughter live weight covariate was significant (p<0.05) and positive. Sire had a significant effect (p<0.01) on eight traits including critical strength and finished-leather attributes (p<0.01), farm was also significant for eight traits (p<0.01). Average skin thickness was similar to published values. Sire can have an effect on important traits, and selection for higher slaughter weights of yearling red deer is predicted overall to increase the quality of skins and leather produced.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 75, Dunedin, 114-118, 2015
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