A survey of animal-powered logging in Alabama

  • Authors: Toms, Christopher W.; Dubois, Mark R.; Bliss, John C.; Wilhoit, John H.; Rummer, Robert B.
  • Publication Year: 2001
  • Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
  • Source: Southern Journal of Applied Forestry, Vol. 25(1):17–24


In a state with a very large, highly mechanized timber harvesting industry, animal-powered logging still occupies a niche in Alabama as a small-scale harvesting alternative. This article summarizes the results from a study that examined the extent of animal logging in Alabama. We investigated this topic by asking who is logging with animals, where are they working, what equipment are they using, and what do they see as the future of animal-powered logging in Alabama. To answer these questions, we conducted a telephone survey of 33 owner-operators of horse and/or mule logging operations and on-site semi-structured interviews with a subsample of survey participants. Horse and mule loggers in Alabama work mostly on nonindustrial privately owned forests. The average animal logging operation consists of three people, two animals, and a side-loading truck. Most animal loggers find their niche in Alabama’s logging industry by working on small tracts, tracts with low timber volumes, and harvests that use selective thinnings. With 90% of the animal loggers in Alabama over age 40, and with 27 loggers having retired in the past 5 yr, the number of animal loggers in Alabama is expected to decline, or, at best, hold steady, over the next 10 to 20 yr. As the average area of a nonindustrial privately owned forested tract in the Southeast continues to decrease, particularly along the urban fringe, the demand for small-scale harvesting systems, including systems using animals and farm tractor-sized implements to skid logs, may increase.

  • Citation: Toms, Christopher W.; Dubois, Mark R.; Bliss, John C.; Wilhoit, John H.; Rummer, Robert B. 2001. A survey of animal-powered logging in Alabama. Southern Journal of Applied Forestry, Vol. 25(1):17–24
  • Keywords: Animal-powered logging, horse logging, mule logging, small-scale harvesting systems, logger demographics
  • Posted Date: June 24, 2009
  • Modified Date: June 25, 2009
  • Print Publications Are No Longer Available

    In an ongoing effort to be fiscally responsible, the Southern Research Station (SRS) will no longer produce and distribute hard copies of our publications. Many SRS publications are available at cost via the Government Printing Office (GPO). Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, printed, and distributed.

    Publication Notes

    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
    • Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.