Horns

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Christiaan, Jan 28, 2005.

  1. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

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    When I butcher my beef steer this spring I want to save his horns. They aren't nice enough for a mount, but I'd like to keep them. After I saw them off, what is the best way to get the bone out? I'd appreciate any help on this.
     
  2. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What do you mean by get the bone out?

    We dehorned three older cows (one was three and the other two were pushing five). The horns are beautiful and we just left them to dry after the dehorning. They tend to be fairly hollow.
     

  3. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    Just put the horns near an ant nest, they will be cleaned up real good in a week or so.
     
  4. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

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    Every cow I've ever dehorned had a bone core from which the horn grows. Since this steer has horns almost two feet long I presume there would be quite a bit of bone inside. Mostly I just want to clean the inside of the horn in the least smelly way.
     
  5. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

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    Pretty hard to find an ant's nest here in damp Western Washington. I suppose I could freeze them until the yellow jackets arrrive.
     
  6. lilsassafrass

    lilsassafrass Well-Known Member

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    Christiaan ...

    I raise highlands and one of my saleble items are the skulls , and horns
    Generally I am prossessing an entire head , but occasionally i have an older one that either needs to be put down , or dies of old age .. those i generally saw off the horns instead of gristley work of removing the head.
    Either way if you want to remove the horn from its bone core unless you want to just weather them .. works fine for entire heads .. not so well for sawn off horns so.. get yourself a largish kettle to put over a fire, big enough to submerge the horns, set a few blocks of wood down in and set the horns on top of or suspend them in the pot so they dont touch the side or bottom and scorch .They will tend to float as the sinuses clean out. Cover them with water , add about 1 cup of washing soda (you can do with out , but it will take longer to release the horns from the bone ) The washing soda will turn any connective tissue, meat or veins to jelly pretty quickly well lots quicker than boiling with out .... I do it both ways .. depends on how much time and scrap wood and brush I have to burn to keep the fire going ....as it can turn into and all day or multiple day job for large heads ...
    Bring it to a boil and boil till the horn slips off .. (check from time to time .. by taking them out and have some one use a pair of vise grips to grasp teh bone ..which has sinuses and some one else to use gloves to tug on the horn itself twisting in the direction of the curves. if they wont come .. put em back in the pot ... don't let them touch the sides .. they will scorch
    I have a tank that I can do three or four heads at a time .you obviously wont need anthing that big ...
    As i said you can also just set them out and let them weather where the flies (in summer ) or the stink wont bother you but the outer lammina of the horn will tend to peel ..needing scraped and sanded more resulting in a thinner horn wall The younger the animal the more they will peel ... 20 year old cow horns dont peel much .. but are very hard to pull the bone out because of the excessive curve and recurve to the horn
    when you are done .. scrub out the inside of the horn with bleach .. scrub it good... let it dry .. make with it what you will .... to shape horn .. you boil them again till they are soft .. and shape them as you want and let dry ....
    so thats how I do it ...In a nutshell
    Maybe there is a better way .. I would love to learn one ..
    Oh ... if you use the washing soda ... be care ful where you dispose of your boil water as it is toxic .. I put it in the drive well away from well and septic and where the dogs would normally run .. then hose it in ...

    Paula
    Hyde Park Farm
     
  7. lilsassafrass

    lilsassafrass Well-Known Member

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    Ohh ..
    When I am boiling heads/horns
    no one ever seems to want to come to supper at my house .. doesnt help when i tell folks i am making head stew .. a real real big pot of head stew :rolleyes:

    Paula
     
  8. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

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    Thanks for all the info. I've also been talking to some other folks and gotten some interesting advice. A couple say to just bury the head in the compost pile or a manure pile. Also been told to catch some dermestid beetles and have them do the job. They say with a large colony the beetles can clean even a large cow head in 4 to 5 days!
    Well, lots of options and a couple of months to go before I need to decide. I definitly don't want to spend another $250 for a horn mount!