Evaluation of subjectively assessed nodule traits of ostrich skins as influenced by slaughter age
ABSTRACT: Ostrich skins (n = 214) were assessed by 28 participants involved in the ostrich leather production and marketing chain. The participants were from various sectors in the ostrich industry, including producers, skin graders, leather marketers, agents and process managers. Skins were evaluated during two occasions, firstly without any knowledge of slaughter age and thereafter with prior knowledge of slaughter age. Nodule acceptability and distribution for each skin were scored on a linear scale of 1 to 10. Slaughter age, as estimated by the participants during the first evaluation, was regressed on the actual age of the birds at slaughter. The derived regression indicated that actual slaughter age accounted for approximately 46% of the variation found in estimated slaughter age. Nodule acceptability scores generally increased with slaughter age. Average scores of at least moderately acceptability were found only in skins from birds slaughtered at 11 months of age and older. A corresponding trend with increase in slaughter age was found for nodule distribution scores. Between skin variance ratios were comparatively low for nodule acceptability (0.09-0.10, depending on prior knowledge of slaughter age or not) and nodule distribution (0.05-0.06). The between scorer variance ratio was generally higher, exceeding 0.35. Scores for nodule acceptability with or without prior knowledge of the age of individual skins at slaughter were essentially the same, as judged from a near unity covariance ratio between individual skins. A similar trend was observed for nodule distribution score. The need for practical methods for the objective assessment of the acceptability of nodules and ostrich leather quality was expressed.