Slinkskin business shutting down

End of an era . . . South Otago Casualty Stock owner-operator Blair Thompson shifts a container used for animal skins, an operation that will soon cease. PHOTO: JACK CONROY


A Clutha slinkskin business will cease operation following 30 years’ work with the farming community.
South Otago Casualty Stock, in Kaitangata, has been forced to shut down due to lack of demand for natural skin products overseas.
Owner›operator Blair Thompson said “the writing has been on the wall” for a few years.
“The past few years there has been less of a demand for natural skin as synthetic products take over,” Mr Thompson said.
The lamb and calf skins that the firm treated were sent to a firm in Hastings, which then exported to the worldwide garment industry.
“They’re used for coats, handbags, gloves, that kind of thing.”
The skinning operation also provided an important service for about 300 farmers around the Clutha district.
“Out of us operating the business and selling the skins the farmers have automatically had a very good casualty stock service getting the carcasses off the farm.
“Now that this is stopped there will be a major upheaval as far as farmers will be back burying carcasses or that sort of thing.”
Mr Thompson said farmers would face difficulty in the future as they tried to come up with ways to dispose of dead animals. The main concern regarding offal holes were the risks to environmental and human health with the leaching of disease› carrying micro›organisms.
“In most places a farmer is still allowed to have an offal hole, but local laws around the country are changing as we speak,’’ Mr Thompson said.
‘‘The day will come when there are no more offal holes on farms.”
While the skin industry had been in decline for a few years, Mr Thompson said the Covid›19 pandemic had put the final nail in the coffin.
“I think if that hadn’t happened things could have continued for a couple more years . . .but nobody will commit to orders anymore.”
The usual months of operation ran from July to October, with the help of off›season freezing workers.
“The last few years we got up to 16 seasonal workers . . .
‘‘We had contractors running around in trucks picking up this stuff from the farms.
‘‘But it’s just not feasible to do it anymore.”
The cost of running the collections meant that work would simply not start up again this season.