Size of a coop?

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Size of a coop?

Postby AlexanderTheLate » Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:40 am

What is the average size of a coop in a coppice? Vague question, I know, just looking for ballpark figures, how big a coop would keep one, productive worker busy for a year? Mixed species, possibly any combination of, Birch, Dogberry (sorbus aucupaira), Apse (Populus grandidentata), Pin Cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), maple (unknown), scrub alder and willow.
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Re: Size of a coop?

Postby gavin » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:58 am

Google coup
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Re: Size of a coop?

Postby AlexanderTheLate » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:48 pm

I tried both, I chose to write coop because coup sounded french, and I am not french. :D I get the formula Total area divided by number of coops, but that was evident in the basic idea of a coppice, I am more interested in actual measurements.
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Re: Size of a coop?

Postby gavin » Wed Aug 07, 2013 4:18 pm

My single practical experience of working with foresters leads me to believe a coup is any area that a management plan is sub-divided into. So it will vary by the technology used - hand-operations will need smaller coups than machine-operations. Also the outcomes may vary - so if you manage for wildlife diversity, you may wish to have smaller coups than if you manage for firewood. Think of it as a unit of land-management relevant to the technology used & outcome desired.
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Re: Size of a coop?

Postby monkeeboy » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:23 pm

Half an acre is a good size, any smaller may not be ideal for regrowth/regeneration etc.

Species mix sounds a bit naff though to me.
I try to cut either mostly single species coupes for craft wood or a better mix than yours for firewood etc.
Not to say that you couldn't get a lot of good stuff from the mix you've got, just wouldn't be my choice.
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Re: Size of a coop?

Postby AlexanderTheLate » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:59 pm

monkeeboy wrote:Half an acre is a good size, any smaller may not be ideal for regrowth/regeneration etc.

Species mix sounds a bit naff though to me.
I try to cut either mostly single species coupes for craft wood or a better mix than yours for firewood etc.
Not to say that you couldn't get a lot of good stuff from the mix you've got, just wouldn't be my choice.


No, I don't have any land, that's just the local wood that coppice (What is likely to be on any given piece of land) My question was purely in the spirit of inquiry (or an equally naff plan for the future). Thanks for the reply. :)
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Re: Size of a coop?

Postby Brian Williamson » Thu Aug 15, 2013 7:12 pm

Coup - from the french couper, to cut. Quite a few of our words seem to come from being invaded by the Normans.

There are two limits to how big an area can be cut.

The first, as Monkeyboy suggests, is the smallest area that will give you good regrowth. This is often dictated by the shading effect of neighbouring trees/shrubs, and will need to get larger as the neighbouring trees get bigger. Personally, for short rotation coppice (say 6-8 years) I think that you could go smaller than half an acre, maybe a quarter of an acre (35yds x 35yds).

The second, of course, is how much you can physically cut in a year.

The practical, middle way, is how much you can cut to give you enough useful material to cope with. I don't know what you would hope to do with the species that you list (they all sound foreign to me!), but an acre of really good quality hazel (Corylus avellana) would just about provide a living for a full-time coppice worker over here. You're likely to need more with a more mixed species coup.

What would you be thinking of making with your (possible) mixed-species coppice?

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Re: Size of a coop?

Postby AlexanderTheLate » Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:04 pm

Ideally, I was thinking single species Birch and to use it mainly for charcoal. But of course, no good sized chunk of land is going to have all, or even a good amount of birch* (we have mainly soft-wood woods here). Which is why I listed off the others, and I would be an idiot to overlook other viable markets (gardening products seem in demand, for example, so I am wrestling around with ideas)

Really all I am trying to do is think up ways to earn a living from the woods, (they say that our economy is 'booming', but I don't see how they figure that out...) so I won't have to go away. I have come up with some (in my eyes anyways) good ideas, christmas tree farming, portable sawmilling, ect, ect. Cost/benefit analysis charts litter my desk.


and unfortunately, Hazel does not grow here.

Thank you very much, for your helpful response.

*another issue is that scrubby 'alders' (what we call Alder, but you people seem to refer to something different: I have heard tell of alder boards- but what we call alder rarely gets over a few inches thick) and Arctic Willow appear almost magically on any clear spot, and Apse shoots up these little 'cloakers' whenever a big tree is cut, so clearing a bit of land for Birch coppice would be a scrub jungle before a year was out.
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Re: Size of a coop?

Postby gavin » Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:06 am

AlexanderTheLate wrote:Really all I am trying to do is think up ways to earn a living from the woods

Is any one doing that in Canada on the sort of scale you plan?
Have you got Ray Tabor's books? e.g. A guide to Coppicing - google "Ray Tabor" and see what else he has published. I have 3 of his books and ALL are worthwhile. Since you seek to get your living from this, you may as well profit by the knowledge of someone who does already earn from this and writes well about it.

Do you sell at shows? Can you sell ? If you will get skills in these areas, your income will go up vastly. Mine has :D :D - but then I am good at and enjoy sales. If you don't want to learn selling and presentation of your wares - and go to shows where you can sell stuff, your income will suffer.

If your birch is like UK birch, presumably you can sell besom brooms or pea sticks from the twigs.
Image

Whilst I don't sell these myself, I have seen them sold at shows for good profit.

I suggest charcoal is NOT the way to go for large production. I spent several years in the early 90's attempting to live on charcoal-making. It's a fun way to go broke. I found was competing with any other charcoal supplier in Indonesia, Borneo and could not differentiate my product enough to get a living on it - unless I stood behind the bag and sold it. You cannot do that with 500 kg of charcoal per week!! That's about 4 tonne of timber you must load and unload from the kiln(s) grade and bag, store and deliver and it is not kind to your lungs. By all means footle about with oil-drum production, and read Walter Emrich Handbook of Charcoal Making: The Traditional and Industrial Methods if you want to go all the way to understanding the chemistry and more.
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Re: Size of a coop?

Postby AlexanderTheLate » Fri Aug 16, 2013 4:12 pm

No idea if there is anyone in Canada doing this stuff, I imagine there is.

I have Tabors 'A guide to coppicing', it answered many of my questions. well worth what I paid.


Selling at shows. I was hoping to avoid this, to be honest. :oops: But no doubt learning to sell will pay dividends no matter what I do.

Pea sticks and Besom brooms- I would have to explain pea sticks to customers for sure- but besom brooms sound like a good way to use left-overs.

I am appreciative to hear a realistic account of Charcoal making- everything sounds good on paper. It is still a consideration though. :)
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Re: Size of a coop?

Postby gavin » Sun Aug 18, 2013 11:24 pm

AlexanderTheLate wrote:Selling at shows. I was hoping to avoid this, to be honest. :oops: But no doubt learning to sell will pay dividends no matter what I do.


Shows do give you instant feedback from customers about what they like and dislike, so even if you hope to avoid selling, you'd find shows a useful source of info. If you won't sell at shows - where else will you sell? To retailers... ? or direct to punters? Retailers need to put various mark ups to cover their profit, sales tax and overheads, and will often hold your stock only on consignment i.e. they won't pay for it until they sell it. If you will sell direct to punters, they concentrate at shows.

Have you taken any business coaching or written any business plan? If not - you should. Your local government will probably have some agency for encouraging small business start-ups which won't cost you.
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