Timber extraction by horse---- Film and promotional work--Horse logging courses Practical courses, five days long, conducted on a one to one basis on a working site
Our fully insured and experienced crew ensures quality work combining a traditional skill with modern sustainable forestry management- the natural way to work woodland
The advantages of using a professional horse logger to extract timber are;
- Selective thinning is economical as no extra trees are cut down than needed
-The low impact of horses leaves the forest floor in good condition
- No need for line thinning reduces risk of windblown trees
- Ensures your remaining standing trees are undamaged
- Ideal for wet, steep, rough and small plantations
- Leaves no timber behind on the forest floor
- Minimal disturbance to wildlife
- No pollution of waterways
For the past twenty eight years I have worked and trained heavy draught horses in all road, field and forest operations across Ireland - a trade I learned in the traditional manner where it was passed down through my family from father to son. This heavy horse heritage and the range of work we do with various breeds of these magnificent horses can be viewed in the archive below. References are available on request. Feel free to contact me if you require any further information.
Tom Nixon, Athenry, County Galway, Ireland mobile; 086 038 4857 email; firstname.lastname@example.org
Member of Forest Training & Education Ireland Ltd. British Horse Loggers
Research conducted by Coford and Waterford Institute of Technology found that 'horse logging is suitable on smaller sites or where woodlands were sensitively managed'
To read the full report 'Hardwood fuel from our new forests' by Tom Kent and Seamus Dunne type Bioenergy News 2008 into the search box at www.seai.ie/Renewables
A good example of a sensitively managed woodland was Meikle Wood in Threaves Estate in Scotland where I worked fellow logger Jim Johnstone's Brabant (above) a larger breed of Belgium heavy horse alongside my own Mountain Ardennes (below)
The National Trust for Scotland had decided on horse power for timber extraction because this system would not only ensure the health of the standing trees but also mean the least disturbance to wildlife, their habitats and ancient earthworks within the wood.
With Threaves Castle in the distance another advantage of horse powered timber extraction is evident- the minimal impact of hooves on wet ground.
For a full account of why this system was chosen for this sensitive woodland click www.nts.org.uk and then go into News, then Press Archive, then 2008 toread 'Horsepower harnessed for Trust tree-felling' 22/09/08
Photos: Karl Munday, Senior Ranger, National Trust for Scotland
'Windblow' can be a major problem on high ground sites like this Spruce first thinning contract we are just finishing for another forest owner in the County Clare Wood Energy Project (CCWEP). It can be avoided by thinning the trees in a selective manner ensuring no straight lines are cut through the wood.
When woods are thinned by machine this is done in straight lines. These straight lines leave tunnels through the plantation which can allow wind to move at high speed, building up enough force to knock over some of the remaining trees. This can lead to substantial losses in the crop.
The horses come into their own when extracting timber from such selectively thinned woodlands, as they can weave in and out through the irregularly spaced standing trees.
On this job we are working Ardennes mares Chincha (above left) alongside her daughter Lisa (below)
This job marks a year for Lisa working in the woods since we started her logging last June (see earlier post 'Lisa's first day in the wood') She has filled out and is settled into her work.
Chincha is in foal again and kept fit by working light loads.
by Tom Kent, Waterford Institute of Technology and Seamus Dunne,
Forest Service, Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food BIOENERGY NEWS 2008, Sustainable Energy Ireland www.sustainableenergyireland.com
(type Bioenergy News 2008 into search box)
The wood we are in at present was chosen for horse thinning because it is on wet ground which machine harvesters would find difficult to travel through and whose weight would churn the forest floor to mud.
This particular wood is also susceptible to wind damage so a purely selective system was chosen.
Good reasons for using horses to extract the timber rather than machines.
Our present logging job is for a group called CCWEP (County Clare Wood Energy Project) www.ccwep.ie which was formed to bring together small forest owners in an area into a cluster.
This initiative makes it easier for these timber producers to harvest and market their crop operating as one unit rather than as individuals. Such a cluster is also more attractive to harvesting contractors.
Before planting commercial forests drains and ditches are cut through the site to enable the free draining of the soil.
These drains are a major consideration when planning a harvesting job. Every extraction path must be planned with every drain and ditch bridged in a proper fashion.
Bridging is a time consuming but important task and must be included in the pricing of a job.
Small drains can be temporarily filled in with cut branches (brash) - which for the duration of the harvesting blocks the water from getting out of the woodland - so equally important is removing these bridges after the job is over to allow the drains do their job and prevent the forest floor flooding.
Larger ditches and firebreaks need to be bridged with green timber. Dug into the banks on either side of the ditch the timber is lashed together with ropes and finally covered in a thick layer of brash so to ensure horse and handler has a good grip for their feet when crossing.
These timber bridges do not cause any interuption to the water flow.