THE USE OF DRAFT ANIMALS TO SKID LOGS:
A FACT SHEET
- Logging with draft animals is practical, efficient, and environmentally-sound on about 75% of all logging jobs in Appalachia.
- A horse weighs about 1,600 pounds; a rubber-tired skidder weighs about 10,000 pounds.
- A horse can be maintained for 1 year for less than it costs to buy one skidder tire.
- A trained logging horse costs $1,500-$2,000 and can work for 15-20 years.
- A logger and a team of horses can be hired for skidding timber for $125-$175 per day.
- Horses and mules can do about the same amount of work.
- Horses and mules eat about the same amount of food: 3-4 gallons (equivalent to $5-8) of feed per day.
- Mules are more tolerant of hot weather than horses.
- A single horse may be used to skid low-density trees like red cedar; a team of horses is needed to skid high-density trees like oak.
- Horses can skid logs up or down slopes.
- The maximum practical skidding distance for horses is about 1/4 mile (about 1500 feet).
- A team of horses can pull a load of about 150-200 board-feet; this is equivalent to a green weight of about 1,500 pounds; to a white oak log 20-inches DBH and 24 feet long; or to two white oak logs 15-inches DBH and 32 feet long.
- A team of horses can skid about 1,800 board-feet (120 logs) of red cedar per day; a pair of horses can skid about 3,000 board-feet of hardwoods per day.
- Life expectancies of oxen, horses and mules, respectively, are 10, 20, and 35 years.
- Typically, four animals are brought to a logging site and are rotated to give them breaks from working.
- Start-up costs (1996) for horse-logging are about less than $10,000; start-up costs for conventional logging are greater than $100,000.
Comparison of draft animals
- Pair of oxen costs about as much as a single horse or mule.
- Oxen require only a yoke, horses and mules require elaborate harnesses.
- Oxen cannot reproduce.
- Mules have better judgement or sense, and greater agility, than horses or oxen.
- Mules have smaller hooves than horses.
- Mules will not overeat, horses will.
- Mules will not overheat.
- Mules cannot reproduce.
For more information, please see:
This information applies to the use of draft animals in the mountains.
Back to AppalFor - Appalachian Sustainable Forestry Homepage