Chicken leather is one of the uncommon types of leather. While readily available and often touted as a sustainable alternative to regular leather, chicken leather has yet to be widely accepted.
However, it’s unique texture and lightweight make chicken leather suitable for several uses in the fashion industry and beyond – they can come in handy for making leather gloves and purses for women, alongside belts, shoes, and other leather accessories.
I will reveal some pros and likely cons of chicken leather and its uses. And in this guide, you will also discover helpful tips for caring for chicken leather items.
What is Chicken Leather?
Chicken leather is the type of leather obtained from chickens’ skin, mostly the legs and feet. It is commonly referred to as poultry leather and is derived as a byproduct of the poultry industry. On its own, chicken skin is thin without sufficient resistance against wear. However, chicken skin undergoes a unique tanning process to convert into finished leather.
The tender leg skin employed for making this poultry leather usually ranges from 0.8mm to 1.2mm in density and has a length of 13 to 15 cm. Nevertheless, most skins from the legs of such birds often measure around 3.5 to 4.5 cm in width.
This leather is particularly advantageous because of its distinctive and consistent outer texture, or “grain.” But, the area of this leather is pretty small, so you may want to employ leather types with appealing grains like a crocodile, alligator, or other reptile leather if you are interested in making embellishing luxury items.
Chicken leather has received considerable attention recently because it has the potential to be an ethical and environmentally friendly choice compared to other forms of leather, even though it may not be as readily available or utilized as other types of leather.
Since poultry birds are typically grown for meat, utilizing their skins for leather reduces food waste and makes better use of all the animal’s components.
Compared to other forms of leather, chicken leather has several distinctive characteristics. It is helpful for specific uses where a more tender or lightweight material is sought since it is often lighter and more malleable.
What is Chicken Skin Made Of?
Chicken skin is made from the outer flesh of the chicken. This poultry leather is sourced mostly from the legs and feet of birds like chickens, duck, turkey, and ostrich.
The process of turning chicken skin into finished leather involves eight distinct stages.
Sourcing: Manufacturers source chicken skin as a byproduct of the poultry meat industry. After removing their feathers, the chickens are stripped of their skin, leaving the more fleshy parts for meat producers.
Preparation: The chicken skins are cleaned during this stage to remove residual feathers, flesh, and fat. Any dirt or debris on the chicken skins is also cleaned during preparation.
Soaking: The chicken skins are left to soak in water to make them more flexible for further treatment. This stage could last a few hours, depending on the amount of chicken skin involved.
Liming: Chicken skin contains lots of hair and epidermal cells. It’s impossible to eliminate them all during the preparation stage. Therefore, manufacturers further soak the chicken skin in a lime solution.
Liming breaks down any residual hair in the chicken skin and makes it easier to remove them.
Fleshing: Manufacturers then scrape the underside of the chicken skins to remove any residual fat or flesh. The skins may also be split into thinner pieces during this stage.
Tanning: There are several methods of tanning leather. However, vegetable tanning is the most common method for tanning poultry leather. Here’s how to tan chicken skin:
Vegetable tanning uses organic tannins derived from oak, chestnut, and cherry wood. Soaking chicken skin in these tannins causes them to bind with the fibers of chicken skin and turns it into leather. You can also find some chrome-tanned leather from chicken that is subjected to chemical tanning solutions.
Drying: The chicken skins are then pinned to boards and left to dry. Pinning the skins prevents them from shrinking and folding as they dry.
Finishing: The finishing stage of chicken leather production involves dyeing the leather and coating it with an acrylic finish. These procedures enhance the aesthetic appeal of the bird leather and give it more protection against moisture.
Chicken Leather Products
Poultry leather has a wide range of applications. Its lightweight and unique texture make it perfect for various fabrication purposes. Some of the common chicken leather products include:
Gloves and Covers: Chicken leather gloves and covers are lightweight and adaptable for hand protection or item covering. This material is perfect for making gloves with an excellent grip and dexterity since it is thin and flexible.
Poultry leather may be used in various glove designs, including driving, fashionable, and touchscreen-compatible gloves. Chicken leather coverings for electronics like smartphones and tablets are also available, providing protection and flair.
Watch Straps: Watch straps made from bird leather often provide watches with a unique and fascinating appearance. Wearing poultry leather on the wrist is made pleasant by its thinness and flexibility. Chicken leather’s grain and texture pattern may offer to watch straps a distinctive personality and add individuality to a timepiece’s overall look.
People may customize their timepieces using poultry leather watch straps with various colors and finishes.
Shoes: For those who enjoy wearing shoes, chicken leather offers an alternate material. It is light and supple, making it a good choice for breathable footwear. It has a distinctive look and may be used for dress and casual shoes.
Fashion Accessories: Poultry leather may be used for various fashion items besides gloves, watch straps, and shoes. It may be used to make chicken leather wallets, belts, bracelets, handbags, tiny purses, and even accessories for clothing.
This leather is a lightweight, flexible material that works well for small items where a refined and delicate appearance is needed. Hence, this bird skin may also help make chicken leather jackets.
Crafts: Chicken leather’s unique texture makes it suitable for artistic crafts. Many designers use this poultry bird skin for book covers, interior decoration, and scrapbooking. Many artists also use chicken feet leather in combined mediums for making various artworks.
How to take care of Chicken Leather
There are several care routines that you can use to maintain poultry leather and ensure it lasts. Besides extending its lifespan, these tips will also improve the appearance of items made from chicken skin throughout their use.
Here are some intricate care tips you should remember.
Clean chicken leather pieces regularly to remove dirt particles and greasy stains. Leaving dirt to accumulate on the fabric could ruin its aesthetic appeal.
Use a soft, damp cloth or clean rag to wipe the surface of chicken leather pieces when cleaning gently. Avoid using harsh cleaning solutions on the surface of such leather pieces. These chemicals could discolor or weaken the fabric.
Use a suitable leather conditioner to keep poultry leather moisturized and flexible. Apply the conditioner over the surface of the leather item using a soft cloth.
You can find lots of leather conditioners in stores around you. But ensure that you go for a conditioner specially designed for delicate leather. Also, study the manufacturer’s instructions before using any conditioner on chicken leather.
Avoid Excessive Moisture
Protect chicken leather pieces from excess moisture. Clean any water spills and dry the leather piece immediately. Also, avoid wearing them in wet or humid weather. Exposing your leather items to moisture will cause it to dry out and crack.
Protect from Sunlight
Exposing chicken leather to direct sunlight will weaken the fabric and discolor it. Avoid drying such pieces under direct sunlight after you clean it. Additionally, you could apply a UV protection spray on the animal’s skin to shield it from sunlight damage.
Avoid Sharp Objects
Chicken leather is delicate and offers very little resistance against cuts and punctures. Therefore, you need to store or keep it away from sharp objects.
Store your treasured leather pieces in a safe space away from sharp, fragile items. Also, avoid sharp edges and rough surfaces while wearing chicken leather boots and shoes to prevent leaving scratches on the fabric surface.
Store chicken leather in a cool, dry place; keeping such items in a warm damp environment will lead to mildew growth.
Do not store poultry leather in a plastic bag or airtight container. Instead, use a well-ventilated wooden case or dust bag to allow the chicken leather to breathe and remain dry.
Pros of Chicken Leather
Despite its apparent differences from regular hides, chicken leather has lots of benefits. Some of the pros of this animal skin include the following:
Sustainability: With rising concerns about animal welfare and environmental sustainability, chicken leather provides a sustainable alternative to regular hide. This leather type is a byproduct of the poultry industry, and sourcing this material reduces the need to rear animals like cows and goats for their hides.
Also, poultry leather reduces the amount of chicken skin that would have become waste in landfills or disposed of using more toxic methods.
Lightweight: Chicken skin is thinner and lighter than regular hide. This feature suits it for making light fashion accessories like straps and bracelets. Also, chicken leather is pliant and flexible – one of the rare shoe leather types. Thus, its flexibility makes it easier for designers to work with them while creating finished leather products.
Unique Texture: Chicken leather has a distinct surface texture from cowskin and other types of leather. This unique texture makes it popular for fashion enthusiasts who desire a rare and exotic feel.
Affordability: Chicken leather is one of the most affordable types of leather in the fashion industry. The high demand for chicken meat eliminates the need to rear chickens solely for their leather.
As a byproduct of the poultry industry, chicken skin is also readily available to manufacturers and designers. These factors combine to lower the cost of poultry leather production and its eventual price.
Cons of Chicken Leather
Working with poultry leather has a few downsides despite its unique texture and availability.
Some of the challenges of such bird skin include the following:
Durability: Chicken leather is less durable and more prone to damage than pig leather and cowskin. It is also thin and has low tensile strength, and offers little resistance to wear; hence, you may find this material is unsuitable for making highly sturdy and durable boots for women and men.
This poultry bird skin also requires care and maintenance to keep it in great shape and ensure longevity.
Size: Chicken skins are relatively small and rarely ever up to a square foot. This size limitation makes it difficult to produce large chicken leather products. Just like fish leather, designers must staple several bits of this leather together when creating leather pieces requiring sizeable continuous leather panels.
Perception: Although it is gradually gaining acceptance in the fashion industry, many individuals are naturally biased against chicken leather. It is naturally perceived as weak and undesirable. Therefore, it is difficult for manufacturers to demand high sums for poultry leather pieces.
Also, many individuals find it challenging to see chicken leather as real leather rather than as just another meal and have severe reservations about wearing such pieces.
In terms of leather items, chicken leather offers an exciting alternative to other standard leather hides. Although poultry bird skins may not be as well-known as more common leathers like cowhide or sheepskin, it has unique properties that appeal to some people and fashion businesses.
Products made with this leather material stand out from other leathers thanks to their distinctive qualities. Due to its low weight and malleability, the material is appropriate for uses that call for a delicate touch and flexibility.