Chicken cleaning deer skull

Discussion in 'DIY / Self Sufficiency' started by AFort, Jul 28, 2018.

  1. AFort

    AFort Hatching

    Jun 28, 2018
    I an looking for advice or success stories from fellow homesteaders. We are a big hunting family and are striving to be self sufficient. My husband has a few buck skulls frozen waiting to Euro mount. Has anyone let their chicken flock clean their deer skulls? I can't find much research on it but instead of purchasing beetles, my husband is playing with the idea of the idea of letting the flock clean the skull.
    OhZark Biddies likes this.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Welcome to the forum, glad you joined.

    That's a fun question, I've never tried it but I do let them have some of the smaller critters I get to supplement their diet, mainly rabbit and rats but I've tried a few other things. I don't know if their pecking would scar the bones or not. Might be something to experiment with.

    I've found that they are not real good at cutting through skin, I have to open critters up. As far as cleaning a carcass the big problem I have is that there is just not enough in my flock to clean it before the meat goes bad. Flies don't bother me and they love the maggots but the smell does. How many chickens do you have?

    I've seen people put alligator heads on fire ant hills so they can strip to the bone, but the issue again is numbers. There is a huge number of fire ants in a hill, they can strip the head efficiently. Most other ants don't have those numbers and some won't eat the meat. I don't know where you are or if that is an option for you.
    OhZark Biddies likes this.
  3. digbychris

    digbychris Songster

    Apr 6, 2017
    I've always heard that the stereotypical cow skull on a fence post in westerns was done to feed chickens. But, what they ate were the fallen maggots laid by the flys and fallen soft tissue from the skull. There's nothing there chickens wouldn't go crazy for, and IMO they'd know enough to leave rotten things alone. Just maybe don't post it near the house lol. Buzzards would love it, too.
    OhZark Biddies likes this.
  4. NonnasBabies

    NonnasBabies Muddy Acre Farms

    Sep 20, 2009
    Pride, La.
    I've never tried having mine clean a skull but I throw the leg bones to mine after I debone them when i am processing one and they will clean it right up. We have laid deer skulls in a ant pile (Fire ants) left it for a couple of months and they have cleaned it completely
    OhZark Biddies likes this.
  5. OhZark Biddies

    OhZark Biddies Free Ranging

    Apr 13, 2018
    Sittin on a rock
    My Coop
    I had the same thought this year, as my wife took an 8pt that she wanted me to do the European style mount for...

    I did hang it in a tree for a few days just to see of the song birds would have any interest in using it as a "suet" feeder, but they did not.


    Ultimately I decided against it for the following reasons:
    • I thought it might encourage raccoons or other critters to try to get in after the skull at night
    • I had some feather/wound picking issues a couple of months ago, and thought that the picking of red meat off the skull might cause those issues to start again.
    • I wasn't sure that they'd get the skull as clean as needed, and I'd end up having to do about the same amount of work anyway.

    If I was going to do this I would skin the skull first and just let the chickens pick the remaining meat and fat off.

    I would expect that there would still be some effort involved in boiling and scraping/pressure spraying the skull before bleaching it.

    I've done many of these in the past, just by skinning, boiling, pressure washing, and bleaching the skull and I don't think it's that much work... but I have a friend who did it once and never again as he thought it was too involved.

    But the most labor free method (besides the beetles) is to wait until summer, and bury the skull in the ground with just the antlers above the dirt, place a plastic tub over and weigh that down, to keep the sun from bleaching the antlers and to keep critters away. Leave it in the ground for 3 warm weather months and it will come out clean.
    Ridgerunner likes this.
  6. archeryrob

    archeryrob Songster

    Aug 3, 2018
    Western Maryland
    The chickens will not get to it and can't get the brains out. Freeze it and sit it on a ant hill and hope a coon doesn't drag it off. Most guys dig a hole and bury it and the worms and ants will clean it up and it's protected better.
    7acres likes this.

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