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Taxidermy.Net Forum  |  Taxidermy Discussion Categories  |  Skulls and Skeletons  |  Topic: How long for horse skeleton to decompose? « previous next »
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Author Topic: How long for horse skeleton to decompose?  (Read 4839 times)
WildFeathers
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« on: April 19, 2008, 01:50:21 PM »

July 6th, last year, my horse died :( and he was buried in the pasture, probably about 12 feet under. How long would it take until I could try to dig up the bones, and not find anything too gross? They don't need to be clean, they can have some stuff stuck to them,  I just don't want to start digging and find decomposing flesh and organs etc. He was a big horse, Thoroughbred size, and I live on the coast of NC.
-Thanks
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PLTannery
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2008, 03:33:04 PM »

A while. The act of burying cuts off the oxygen need for quick decomp plus cool ground temps act like a refridgerator. Plus skin takes much longer to rot. Your best bet is to dig a test hole and see whats down there.

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WildFeathers
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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2008, 04:32:00 PM »

Thanks, yea I figured in the end I would probably have to just dig and hope for the best, but it's been ten months now so it can't be too bad.
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I'm a teenage girl, a vegetarian, practically a tree-hugger, and I would jump off a building before I shot an animal; but I'll take it if it's dead:).
Sea Wolf
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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2008, 08:45:39 PM »

Expect to find something you don't want to mess with. 12 feet is pretty deep and not much decomposition is going to take place sealed off like that from air and bugs that can break all that flesh down. If It had been closer to the surface I would have said give it a good year before poking at it. If the carcass was limed or anything before being covered it might make a difference but don't be surprised if you find exactly what you didn't want to.
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smokerscully1
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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2008, 09:18:05 PM »

Years ago I figured I could just bury some skulls in the back yard and let the flesh rot off them. Put 4 bear skulls about 3 feet down and big rock on top--dug them up 4 months later. They didn't even smell that bad--hadn't hardly rotted at all.
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Nil Mortifii sans Lucre
Anvil
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2008, 03:07:46 AM »

I think if you start digging now you will be unhappy with what you find. You have your key answers from SW and PL. Cool ground, no oxygen, no access to natural dermisteds.  If I was interested in doing something like your situation I think I would consider boring some holes down and let nature do its thing. 12 feet is mighty deep and you may just want to pass on the whole thing and find a smaller project starting from A to Z.
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WildFeathers
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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2008, 09:42:19 AM »

Ugh. Thank you everyone so much, I'm definitely going to give it longer, a lot longer. If it was some deer or something down there I might start digging to check it out and not worry too much about what I might find, gross stuff doesn't really bother me, but he was my horse, and I absolutely don't want to be standing in a hole and realize I'm digging myself into rotting Jesse.

I definitely want the bones eventually, hopefully the full skeleton, because he was special and I want to do something with them, but I'm patient.

Actually, I just remembered, there's another horse buried on the farm from years ago, that died of old age.

Thanks again everyone ;)
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I'm a teenage girl, a vegetarian, practically a tree-hugger, and I would jump off a building before I shot an animal; but I'll take it if it's dead:).
darwin
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2008, 09:07:05 AM »

My Great Dane had remaining flesh after three years only 50 cm under the surface.
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Sarge
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2008, 09:55:32 AM »

I have put whole dead cows out on the bone pile when I used to work out on the ranch when I was a lot younger and it took about 2 months before they wouldn't stink so bad and another 6-8 months before you had to be near the pile to smell anything.  The hide was usually partially there for just over a year.  That was back in the late 70's, I know most of you will say that is nasty just duming them out like that but it isn't that is ranching in ND.  They die and the ground is frozen for about four months here so hard and so deep that sometimes you have to put tents and heaters over the ground just to bury your friends and familly.  We have thrown a rope on them and drug them out to the bone pile like that for generations.
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PLTannery
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2008, 09:09:43 PM »

Sarge- You must not have had any coyotes.... If you put a cow or horse out here the flesh is completly gone in about a week even in the dead of winter. Even before it begins to smell.

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Sarge
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2008, 09:27:33 AM »

Oh we had plenty of coyotes but you have to remember a pick up on a hill top is considered to be a hunting blind around here.....
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WildFeathers
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« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2008, 11:35:23 PM »

Oh yea, I know it's fast if you don't bury them, the hunters have a bone pile in the woods where they put what they don't want from their deer, and their goats when they die. They're bones within a week or two. And I don't think that's wrong or gross at all, it's much more natural that way. But for some reason I wanted my horse to be buried :-\ .
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I'm a teenage girl, a vegetarian, practically a tree-hugger, and I would jump off a building before I shot an animal; but I'll take it if it's dead:).
Sarge
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« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2008, 12:53:45 AM »

Oh No don't get me wrong just trying to help with a time line. I lost a few good dogs to cow kicks to the head as a kid and that I buried them and then we needed a new drain field for the septic system on the farm.  You said it was twelve feet down is it in a wet area or dry like up on a hill?  It could end up kinda mummified if in a really dry soil?   If it is in wet soil it could be pretty nasty for quite awhile.  Did you cover it at all and if so hopefully not with plastic?  I know for sure plastic is the worst thing it won't let nature get the moisture away.  the main thing will be the lack of oxygen at that depth.  Myself I wouldn't consider digging for at 2 years.  The ground will have drawn away the majority of the worst part of it.  This may sond like a crazy idea but you could take a coloney of beetles and dig a test hole like Anvil said and if you find what we are all afraid you will release the beetles at that point and let them go to work.  then all you will need is a can of raid when they are done.  I hope this helps didn't mean to sound like a jerk Sorry. :-[
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WildFeathers
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« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2008, 03:36:27 AM »

Oh, I didn't think you sounded like a jerk! not at all, don't worry:)

No, no plastic, just dirt from the hole. The soil is sandy, and can get really dry (but it's not on a hill and we're on the coast, so even in a drought if you dig you find enough wet again) but can get really wet too :-\. I didn't know beetles could work underground! What would be the price range for a little experiment like you're talking about? I'm really interested in them, but I don't know hardly anything about them and it seems like an expensive project ??? :).
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I'm a teenage girl, a vegetarian, practically a tree-hugger, and I would jump off a building before I shot an animal; but I'll take it if it's dead:).
Sarge
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« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2008, 07:44:44 PM »

I don't know much about them myself but I am thinking if there was a way to get them down there and if they have an abundant food source like that they should stay close and get to work.  I would try this link and see what they think RDMARTIN53@aol.com he posts on Skulls and Skeletons and is selling Beetles on the sale page lists 300-500 beetles for $35.00 priority UPS from what I can find he could probably tell you if it is worth a shot.  Good luck and let me know what happens I would like to know myself.

Jeff
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