When buying leather hides several customers aren't aware that the raw material used to produce leather has a large impact on the price. Cattle farms are located all over the world and are used primarily slaughtered for beef but certain countries and continents have different methods of raising cattle. The two most popular leather supplying continents are Europe and South America.
Cattle farming is a huge business in South America as the terrain and countries are great locations for raising cows. The terrain and open fields make for excellent grazing and offer plenty of room for several hundred cows to be raised. These are good conditions for breeding cattle but one thing to remember when purchasing raw material from South America are the natural characteristics that are included. Most hides that come from South America will include insect bites, healed scars and brands. Insect bites are most commonly caused by ticks, being out in a large field or wooded area makes for an easy target. Healed scars can be caused by the animal brushing up against a fence line to ease an itch. Brands are a pretty common thing in the leather industry and are used to mark the cattle to signify the ranch that owns the cow. Brahma cows are the most popular breed that are found in South America, these are large cows that feature a hump on their neck. These type of hides will feature a hole in the neck area that is pictured in this blog post. These leather hides are considered a good value and are usually purchased in large volume by furniture and shoe makers.
European cowhide is considered to be the nicest raw material selection. These cows are raised in much better conditions than those in South America. European hides are typically extremely clean and will feature little to no natural characteristics. Most these hides are collected and sent to Italy where tanneries are considered to be the best. Typically made into aniline leathers that will look and feel more natural than pigmented products. Neck wrinkles are sometimes visible in European leathers and only guarantee the quality and authenticity of the leather. Healed scars can also be present in European raw material but are not as common as South American raw materials.
The big difference between these raw materials is the price. Typically European raw material is more expensive and used for upholstery leather; but is a lot easier to cut and work with because it won't have as many natural characteristics. If you are a trained leather cutter then it might be worth the savings to purchase South American leathers because you are familiar with the product and the characteristics that come with it.