The Static Flaying Frame was designed by Sam Setter and given to the poorer nations in the hope of enabling them to upgrade their hides and skins and gaining more added value from their raw materials. It is a very simple piece of technology and has achieved great success in some locations while failing in others.


The Bahati/Lissa slaughterhouse in Limuru is a grass root investment by local farmers. The abattoir provides much needed processing and market services to pastoralists and livestock farmers. The investment aims to achieve hygienic meat production, add value to meat products, open new markets and drive product demand. Developing meat marketing systems will also increase incomes for sustained livelihoods. SFF equipment has now been installed in our abattoir.

Background for using SFF equipment

The organised leather industry has great potential to accelerate economic growth and job creation.

At present it earns Sh7.3 billion (US$92.9 million) and employs 155,450 directly and indirectly. However, poor quality raw materials are the single most important factor that constrains growth of the leather industry in Kenya.

Inadequate production and preservation methods at source constrain value added processing. The initial production stages during the slaughter process account for more than 30% of leather quality. Damage occurring at the point of slaughter cannot be redeemed in later processing. To overcome this serious constraint, the SFF equipment was installed. The equipment is simple in design, manually operated and easy to use in a most rural situation. It was hoped that local slaughterhouses would take the initiative to use the SFF to produce quality hides and skins.

Surprisingly, despite its great benefits, it has proved difficult for many local slaughterhouses to integrate the SFF in their operations. This report is a brief overview of our experience and views on the use of the SFF equipment.

Lessons learnt

The SFF equipment was installed in our abattoir in March 2003. Unlike other slaughterhouses, we maintain a positive attitude to ideas that promise valuable opportunities. The idea of SFF equipment was, therefore, most welcome. We provided space and staff to test the equipment in a real working situation. We have realised the following experiences:

* SFF equipment was easy to install and use under our local slaughterhouse conditions. It integrated easily within our operational practice

* Over 60% of slaughter defects (knive cuts, flaying holes etc) can be reduced by using the SFF equipment

* Meat hygiene is enhanced by using SFF equipment due to minimum contact between meat and the dirty hides. By pulling the hide, the silver coating is left intact. This makes the meat easier to preserve for longer in retail butchers

* Much better quality hide and a good shape is obtained when the equipment is used together with Hanns hooks

* Equipment need not slow the slaughter process if slaughter house operations are well organised and planned (Teamwork)

Difficulties encountered

Limited difficulties were encountered using the SFF:

* Existing slaughter line system made of rail and rollers is not best suited to SFF equipment. The high force of pulling causes the roller to slip at times and can cause accidents to attendants. The roller slipping delays the slaughter process

* Pulling chain and hoist must be very good quality otherwise breakages cause delay in the slaughter process

* Poor preservation and storage practice degrades the gained leather quality

Improvements needed

* Our existing slaughter line system needed to be changed to use the pipe system and sliding hooks for better and smooth operation and avoiding accidents

* We need to develop better preservation and storage practice to safeguard rotting of hides before delivery

With the above improvements, we honestly believe that the SFF can achieve the 30% value addition to our leather raw materials at source. This guarantees subsequent value added tanning with great economic benefits to all stakeholders.

Trials in other slaughterhouses

Trials of SFF equipment in other slaughterhouses have failed. Our abattoir received a very critical enquiry as to why we were able to use the equipment. We therefore decided to find out why the other slaughterhouses failed to use the SFF equipment. This has been a great lesson even to ourselves.

The decision to use SFF equipment in other slaughterhouses is more an institutional problem than a technical one. There is an inherent negative attitude that hide pulling machines lower meat quality as it will attach the fat to the leather. Also the equipment will slow down the slaughter process.

There is massive ignorance on the ground about leather quality, production procedures and preservation. This ignorance is a major factor that deterred the use of SFF equipment. Acceptance of SFF technology is a function of knowledge and awareness of the slaughterhouse management and its butchers.

There is no motivation today for production of quality leather. Dealers pay the same price for all grades. This is the most retrogressive aspect that complexes the ignorance for quality leather production. There is lack of clear policy and enforcement on part of the government to safeguard leather quality and production.

Spreading innovation

An organised leather industry has the potential to save African people from poverty and contribute to better livelihoods. Therefore, there is a great need to pay attention to efforts that will improve the quality of this important natural resource.

The initial stages of production are most important and need greater attention in order to guarantee subsequent value added processing. The SFF equipment offers the best option to achieve this objective. We strongly feel that the complex institutional problems and negative attitude can be overcome. We wish to suggest the following interventions.

Region-wide information dissemination and awareness raising initiative on the use of the SFF equipment to improve leather quality at the source of production. This should target the negative attitude towards using the SFF equipment.

Training and education to equip slaughterhouse management and butchers with knowledge and skills for quality leather production and preservation. Training should address issues of quality standards and grading practice.

A pilot to facilitate people-friendly technology dissemination through full-scale demonstration of usage under real work conditions. This pilot should communicate to all stakeholders the benefits of value adding at source and demonstrate practicability of the technology under local conditions.

SFF equipment will only achieve desired benefits if it is widely adopted in the country.

Incentives will be required to ensure wide adoption on the ground. Some funds (seed money) need to be provided within the framework of building training capacity. The funds to be used to support stakeholder workshops and seminars that develop and execute action plans (make it happen) and to procure services to monitor implementation of the stakeholder action plans.


Improvement of leather quality at source using SFF equipment is most important and practical. This improvement is a critical factor in the value added chain for the leather industry.

However widespread usage of SFF technology will happen if the complex institutional problems and ignorance in African slaughterhouses are overcome. A technology driven approach alone may not succeed.

Education, training and information for awareness raising is most vital. More important use of the technology must translate in qualifiable benefits to leather producers, eg higher prices for quality leather. These are the lessons we have learnt in using the SFF equipment at Limuru.

Michael Kibue and George Mburu