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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A whole sheepskin

Sheepskin is the hide of a sheep, sometimes also called lambskin. Unlike common leather, sheepskin is tanned with the fleece intact, as in a pelt.



Sheepskin is used to produce sheepskin leather products and soft wool-lined clothing or coverings, including gloves, hats, footstools, automotive seat covers, baby and invalid rugs and pelts (sheepskin rugs and seat covers). In particular, sheepskin is the principal material used to make ugg boots, footwear traditionally produced in Australia and New Zealand. Sheepskin numnahs, saddle pads, saddle seat covers, sheepskin horse boots, tack linings and girth tubes are also made and used in equestrianism.[1] [2]

The fleece of sheepskin has excellent insulating properties and it is also resistant to flame and static electricity. Wool is considered by the medical profession as hypoallergenic.[3]

The Royal Melbourne Hospital and the CSIRO Textile and Fibre Technology Leather Research Centre, testing confirmed the advantages of medical sheepskin in the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcer treatment.[4]


The quality of the skin used in each application depends on several factors, mostly whether the pelt, which is the back of the hide, will be visible or not. Where the pelt is visible, better quality hide with minimal seed will be used.

Seed contamination refers to patches of scar tissue resulting from a healed seed burrow wound during the animal's life. This scar tissue can fall out leaving small holes after the pelt is processed or it can remain in place leaving imperfections in the pelt which cannot be corrected. Seed contamination is graded as follows[5]:

(1) "No Visible Seed" - Visually free of seed any contamination. This does not however mean the skin is free of seed, only visually free.

(2) "Light Seed" - Slight seed contamination visible in the wool but minimal mainly concentrated in the belly regions.

(3) "Medium Seed" - Light seed contamination is present over most of the wool surface but is concentrated around the belly area and the legs.

(4) "Heavy Seed" - Heavy contamination extending through the majority of the wool but especially prevalent around the belly area and the legs.

(5) "Burry" - Wool contaminated with hard seed. Can vary from light to heavy concentration. This level of seed can cause problems if it is not removed before fleshing starts as the rollers can sometimes punch them through the skin.

In general wool affected by skin diseases is not usable. Other problems include lice infestation, dead wool and regrowth.

Skins are classed, packed and sold in standardized wool lengths:

  • Bares (newly shorn)
  • 1/8"–1/4" (3 mm–7 mm)
  • 1/4"–1/2" (7 mm–13 mm)
  • 1/2"–1" (13 mm–26 mm)
  • 1"–2" (26 mm 55 mm)
  • 2"–4" (55 mm–110 mm) (Full wools)

Mouton fur

Mouton fur is sheepskin which has been processed to resemble beaver or seal fur.[6] Mouton is French for "sheep". Mouton fur refers to lamb hair which has been straightened, chemically treated, and thermally set to produce a moisture repellent finish. Mouton is often dyed brown to resemble beaver, but it is also found in many other colors. Mouton (so-called in the USA and Canada) is called "beaver lamb" in the UK.

Other terms for the word

In many American cultures the term sheepskin can be described as the ability to be sly and/or cunning. In the popular American cardgame Moose players use the term "pulled a sheepskin" to describe that they tricked the other player into putting down the inappropriate card for the play at hand. This can be directed to pulling a veil over someone's head concealing their ability to see at that particular moment.

See also


  1. ^ Dressage & General Purpose Numnahs Retrieved on 2 February 2009
  2. ^ Sheepskin Products Retrieved on 2 February 2009
  3. ^ Wool Facts Retrieved on 12 January 2009
  4. ^ Pressure Ulcer Treatment Retrieved on 12 January 2009
  5. ^ Sheepskin Seed Contamination Gradings Retrieved on 12 January 2009
  6. ^ MOUTON Fur: the smart choice Retrieved on 12 January 2009

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