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What’s a North American Steer and Why Should I Care?

North American Steer

Premium leather starts with premium hides. Our leather is made from North American cattle of European stock. Essentially, these are good old American steer hides. So what are North American cattle? And what’s a steer?

This is something I’ve had some first hand experience with. As a boy, I spent summers on my grandfather’s farm & cattle ranch. I came to appreciate what it takes to produce the best cattle. If fact, the picture above is from my childhood at my grandfather’s cattle ranch. 

There are approximately 250 breeds of cattle worldwide. And not all breeds are equal. Some North American breeds you may have heard of include Angus and Herefords. By comparison, you’ve probably seen pictures of cattle in developing nations. Often times, they have horns and appear much thinner and smaller than cattle raised in America.

Most of the cattle raised in America for meat, hides, etc. are steers. A steer is a male, but one that was castrated early in life and does not take on the characteristics of a bull. Granted, the “c” word is not a pleasant thought. But it’s the same thing that is done to dogs and cats and is actually a humane process typically performed by a vet. I’ve personally witnessed steers being “created” but that’s a different story for a different time.

Steers produce the best meat and hides. By contrast, a bull is much more muscular and tough throughout, creating a different result. Bulls are meant primarily for breeding. Apart from the breed of the steer, nutrition, medical care and other factors go into producing the best cattle. Obviously I’m biased on this topic, but I’m convinced North America produces the best cattle worldwide.

I’ve compared leather hides from other parts of the world and there’s no comparison in my opinion. For starters, the size of the hide is much different. The hides we buy are huge and can nearly fill up a room. These are thick, strong hides that have a consistent weight and texture throughout.

If you make a leather hide out of a smaller breed, or one that didn’t receive the same nutrition and medical care, it’s a different result. Also, older cattle tend to have thinner and more wrinkly hides. Much like people! So there really is a lot that goes into hide selection.

We’re trying to make the best leather goods possible, and that starts with hide selection. We’ve put a lot of thought into our supply chain and take great pride in using the best of the best when it comes to materials.

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