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Primeness is a major factor in grading furs.

  • A pelt is prime when the fur is at peak color, length, density, and texture.
  • Fur buyers usually judge primeness by examining the flesh side of a pelt. They look for dark areas of blood and pigment cells. These dark areas are present at the base of new hair. Pelts with these dark blotches are called "blue hides."
  • Prime skins are called "white." The hair is full-grown. The blood and pigment have disappeared. The flesh side is a pale creamy or parchment color.
White hides, blue hides

Furbearers reach their prime at different times.

  • Foxes prime earliest.
  • Raccoon and mink prime in November and December.
  • Muskrats begin to prime in late November. However, they retain some of their dark blotching for about the first two months of the trapping season. In adults, the dark areas are scattered and irregular in shape. In immature animals, they tend to be nearly symmetrical and arranged in lengthwise rows. In January, all muskrat pelts become increasingly white as hair growth ceases. By February, the animals begin to fight over mates, which "cuts" the pelts.

Size

Pelt size can affect grading. Larger animals usually bring a better price than smaller animals.