The whinny of horses and bleating of goats have been added to the cacophony of barnyard sounds at John Bowne High School in Flushing.
The school’s agriculture program — the only one in the city — has been steadily adding to its collection of chickens, rabbits and alpaca. Just a few weeks ago, Bowne was given two miniature horses, three miniature goats and one standard goat by Sonny Garguilo, who runs a nonprofit rehabilitation horse riding program for children on Long Island.
Bowne instructor Rebecca Rose said Garguillo was given the horses and standard goat and decided to pass them on to the high school. “The horses were used in pet therapy and were being retired,” Rose said. “It’s a wonderful addition for us.”
Although the goat named Molly is still a baby at nine months old, she has been with the horses, Murray and Moe, both about six years old, for three months.
It’s not unusual for goats to be matched with horses as stallmates. Even thoroughbred race horses often have a goat as a companion. It is believed that they keep the high-strung thoroughbreds calm.
As part of the agriculture program, Bowne students brush the animals, clean their enclosures, feed and exercise them. Since both goats and horses are used in competitions, Rose indicated youngsters will learn to handle them for possible show judging.
“It’s good experience to be around the animals and learn to handle and care for them,” said sophomore Carla Florio, who wants to become a veterinarian for large animals.
Regina Szmuc, Kyara Davis, Moenette Alston and Ashley Pellegrino, who were giving the goats some outdoor exercise on Thursday enjoy working with the animals because they are fun and friendly. Last week, students learned how goats’ hooves are trimmed.
The three miniature goats are between 5 and 6 years old and have been named Devon, Daisy and Goat. There are no plans to breed them.
Bowne’s barnyard menagerie includes two other goats, that are now on diets in hopes of breeding them. They hang out with the two alpacas.
All the animals live in a building on the Bowne campus and have an outdoor enclosure.
Steve Perry, assistant principal for agriculture, hopes eventually to acquire some miniature cows to add to the livestock. Can sheep be far behind? Perry said it’s a possibility.