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Exotic New Leather From Turkey Skin
"It looks a lot like ostrich. It's supple and soft," says Clyde Seiz, president of the Fouke Fur Co. in Greenville, S.C., which may be the first company in the world to make leather out of turkey skin.

The firm, using an exclusive and highly secret process, turns the lightweight skins into a leather that's processed into boots, wallets, gloves, etc., by other firms. Turkey skin's big advantage over ostrich skin, which it resembles, is availability.

"Ostrich is very limited and usually comes from a foreign source," says Seiz, noting that they call the new turkey leather "Gallapava," a name derived from the scientific name for turkey. "Gallapava is much cheaper than both ostrich and alligator, and people like the unusual pattern left by the quills in the hide."

A representative of the Sterling Boot Co., Houston, Tex., which has handled Gallapava boots, says the boots have sold well at about $250 a pair. In fact, there's a two month back order. Turkey leather comes in "natural" gray, a reddish-brown, baby blue, butterscotch and chocolate.

Fouke is currently working out "snags" in the tanning process before moving into full-scale production. At this time, they tan around 5,000 hides a week, bought from a nearby turkey processor who trims skins from the carcasses after first steaming feathers off.

Seiz says leather can be made fromany poultry product using their technique including ducks and chickens but that the turkey is the only bird big enough to yield a workable skin. A typical skin from a big bird measures about 13 sq. in., which is the minimum size required for boots. In processing, the skin is treated with chemicals to smooth it and shrunk to both strengthen it and improve the design. It takes two or three skins to make a pair of boots. The firm hopes to be in full production later this year.

For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Fouke Co., Greenville, S.C. (ph 803 246-3210).

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1981 - Volume #5, Issue #2