How to Preserve a Cow Skull and Horns

How to Preserve a Cow Skull and Horns

A properly cleaned and well preserved cow skull can make a distinctive, striking, and exclusive form of art. Furthermore, they can also help us learn a lot about the animal, as the bones of a dead animal can determine a great deal. However, before studying or mounting up a dead animal skull, we must clean and preserve it in a proper manner.

In this article, we learn an easy and effective method of cleaning and preserving a cow or buffalo skull by following a simple routine.

Cleaning and preserving cow skulls and horns

1- Get rid of the skin and meat.

No matter which process you follow in cleaning the skull, the first step will always be to skin the head and remove as much flesh as possible. It can be done by using an array of differently-sized sharp knives. You can also soak the skull for a few hours to soften the tissue for easier removal.

Be careful of removing most of the flesh but without damaging the bones underneath.

2- Detach and clean the horns.

Immerse the horns of the skull in water without and chemicals, and give it a good boil. It will cause the horns to soften up. Take the skull out of the pot and smack on the horn as hard as possible using a sand hammer. Once the horns are off, cut the horn cores with a saw.

Make sure to wash the horns thoroughly inside out. Extract and scrub out anything that is inside the horns. Try to reach as far as possible. You may use long brushes, sponges, etc. Wash them properly with a power washer and detergent and leave them to dry.

3- Macerate the skull.

Maceration is the elimination of flesh from a lifeless animal. For this process, you will need a bucket or container large enough so that the skull can fit in it completely. Different methods can be followed to carry out this technique, including:

  • Cold water maceration Cold water maceration is a long and time-taking process. It requires you to let the skull sit soaking in a bucket full of room-temperature water for a few weeks. You can include a small amount of enzyme-based laundry detergent.These enzymes, along with other bacteria thriving in the bucket, will decompose all the organic matter on the skull. Cold water maceration is one of the safest techniques of cow or ram skull cleaning as it does no damage to it and leaves it intact.
  • Hot water maceration Hot water maceration can also be referred to as “cooking” the skull. In this process, you will place the skull in a large container filled with hot bubbling water with a small quantity of enzyme-based laundry detergent.This method is faster as compared to cold water maceration as the heat also helps in loosening and breaking down the muscles and tissues. However, this may be dangerous for the skull’s integrity as the heat may make it weak and breakable.

4- Clean the Skull

This stage is crucial to ensure that the cow skull is entirely free of grease, fat, and odor. Let the skull sit submerged in a large container filled with water and just a bit detergent for a couple of days. This process will rid the skull of any remaining grease or skull.

After the specified amount of time, take the skull our and rinse it under running water. You may also use a small easy-going brush to scrub any adamant oiliness, but be careful to do so with light hands to avoid harming the skull.

Once the skull is properly washed, leave it to air dry on an absorbent cloth or paper for a few days. Do not keep it under the sun as the heat may damage it.


5- Whiten the Skull

A cow skull is naturally off-white or yellowish, and by following this procedure, you will be able to make it whiter, shinier, and more attractive. To whiten your cow skull, place it in a large container full of water. Now add 10-15 ounces of 35% hydrogen peroxide for every 5 liters of water.

Leave the skull in this solution for a minimum of 24 hours. In case you are not satisfied, you may leave the skull in the solution for a longer time. Be careful not to use bleaching agents for whitening the cow skull as it will cause irreversible damage to it. However, if you want the cow skull to maintain its natural color, you can skip it.

6- Reattach the horns

As we want to preserve the cow skull and its horns, we will reattach the previously removed and cleaned horns. We can use any enduring bondage tools to make sure the horns remain in place. For instance, an automotive glue mixed with hardener will surely do the trick.

Put this mixture on the horns’ insides and slide them right onto the horn cores attached to the skull. For added security, you can also fasten the horns with screws.

7- Preserve the skull and horns

Once the horns are in place, and the skull is completely dry, it’s time for taking preservative measures. There are several methods of preserving the skulls and horns, such as:

  • Clear polyurethane – take the aerosol spray cans of clear polyurethane and apply several light coats of the spray, letting each coat dry before putting the next. Repeat this until the wanted amount of finish is reached.
  • Lacquer – use a half-and-half mixture of clear lacquer and lacquer thinner. The skull with horns can be completely immersed in the solution or brushed on with it.
  • White glue – apply a half-and-half mixture of common white glue and water all over the skull and horns.

Your cow skull and horns are now clean, hygienic, and well-preserved for scientific or decorative purposes. We hope that this information and guideline helped you!