Leather is a natural product, and like anything natural, it is not always perfect. Marks and scars in leather are characteristics of authentic leather hide. They can appear as veins, stretch marks, grain differences, inconsistencies in the surface of the leather, brand marks, insect bites or raised scars. These variations sometimes make the hide unusable but if not too severe, they may also contribute to the beauty and unique look of leather products.
There are 2 categories of damages on leather : the injuries that happened during the animal's lifetime, and the ones that happened after. Depending on their origin and extent, marks and damages will also have consequences on durability and pricing. Here are the different types of marks that can be found on leather.
Dung marks - Manure burns
If the animal is not washed properly, these marks can cause burns and affect the skin. This is not a too severe damage and the hide is still usable.
With this kind of scars, the leather is unusable.
They will damage the skin quality during the tanning process.
Barbed wire, other scratches scars, insect bites, fly eggs or any parasites marks.
Sharp objects, horns, surgeries, insects bytes and parasites can leave scars. In that case, the use of the skin will depend on the number of scars, their length, width and how they spread across the hide.
Neck wrinkles - Creases
These marks do not affect the value of the leather. When cutting the leather, it is just essential to find a balance and symmetry in the leather piece.This type of marks will bring character and uniqueness to the finished object.
The trend to mark cattle with hot branding is declining in wealthier countries for obvious reasons of cruelty against animals. On pigmented, sanded, and embossed leather (corrected grain), the branding is invisible. However, it will be very visible on all other types of leather. Using a tattoo or microchip implant is more secure, less painful for the animal and will avoid damages for the leather production.
Fungal disease on the animal's skin
It is very common on cattle's. The affected areas usually have rounded shapes. Sick animals will get partial hair loss. The disease will heal after one to 3 months but the scars on the skin will remain and will be visible if not treated well during the tanning process. For example, if there is no finish layer on top of an aniline leather, then the stains will remain too visible.
Cutting and conserving the skin at the slaughterhouse
The strong force of the cutting machines can deteriorate the grain of the skin or reduce the usable surface. After skinning, if the hide is not conserved well, bacteria can proliferate and damage the skin.