Under the ostrich grading system used by the industry in South Africa, when grading tanned skins, they are first classified according to their size, and then grading from one to five within each of four classes.

The classes according to size in sq ft and their equivalent square decimeters are as follows:

* Class A – 14+ sq ft (130+ sq dm)

* Class B – 12.4 sq ft to 13.9 sq ft (115 to 129 sq dm)

* Class C – 10.8 sq ft to 12.3 sq ft (100 to 114 sq dm)

* Class D – less than or equal to 10.7 sq ft (less than 100 sq dm)

A farmer is typically paid 20% less for grade B skins and 50% less for grade C skins. Grading is subjective but, generally, the larger the skin the greater the useability – assuming that a larger skin has a corresponding larger quill area. Some manufacturers require top grades within any given size as they know the useability of such a skin and do not have to pay more for the area of a larger skin.

This is specifically true of large manufacturers. However, a smaller manufacturer operating under more craft like circumstances such as a small Mexican boot maker, prefers a larger surface area in order to get more plates of a particular shape out of the skin.

Handbags also tend to be more craft orientated in that there are many different plates and, therefore, a buyer would typically look for larger sized skins.

With the move to basing revenue on meat yields, it is likely that the ostrich industry will see larger skins on the market and within a couple of years these classifications will be less important or will need to be revised.