The study was undertaken to determine the chemical and physico-mechanical quality of leather produced from Rutana, Gumuz and Washera sheep breeds of Ethiopia under Low (300 g/day) and High (450 g/day) levels of concentrate supplementation. The supplement contains 45% wheat bran, 26% maize grain and 29% Noug cake. A total of 36 sheep (12 from each breed) were used in 3x2 factorial treatment arrangement in a completely randomized block design. Hay was fed ad libitum at a rate of 20% refusal as a basal diet. Animals were fed for 90 days. All sheep were slaughtered, the skins were weighed individually and cured with salt weighing about 50% of the weight of the fresh skin and taken to Ethiopian Leather Industry Development Institute for quality assessment of a conventional garment leather manufacturing process according to the standards of the institute. The physico-mechanical and chemical measures of the three breeds and the two levels of supplementation were generally under the acceptable quality standards for shoe upper leather. However, Rutana breed produced leather with higher (p<0.05) quality of physical and chemical traits than Washera sheep but Gumuz has comparable values in most of the trait with Rutana than Washera sheep. The leather produced from High level of supplementation has better physico-mechanical attributes than the low level. Therefore, it can be concluded that feeding of concentrate at 450 g/day than at 300 g/day improved production of quality leather from the three sheep breeds that meet the acceptable range set by Ethiopian leather industry.
Keywords: Leather, physico-mechanical tests, Tensile strength, Tear strength, Sheep