It was a long journey from Queensland's channel country to a farm on the Hunter River at Singleton but 12 donkeys have just made the transition to a new life at St Catherine's Catholic College.
At the school the donkeys are now working with Year 9 agriculture students in an innovative program for those all involved.
The donkeys travelled in a road train from Queensland in a trip organised by Singleton locals Brooke and Heath Purvis who were keen to see the donkeys rescued and re-homed rather than being culled.
They have been at St Catherine's for three weeks and have settled in extremely well, says Agriculture teacher Jo Towers.
"Despite the long journey and having to cope with a totally new environment that includes working with 22 teenagers the donkeys are remarkably quiet and easy to handle," she said.
Ms Towers, who has previously worked on cattle stations in western Queensland, where donkeys roamed wild expected the donkeys may take a bit longer to acclimatise to their new world.
"So far so good which is important in a school and learning environment," she said.
The aim of the program is to train the donkeys to be lead and easy to handle with each donkey cared for and trained by two students.
Normally the school has run a similar program but using cattle.
"We would have five or six steers break them in and prepare them for a competition," Ms Towers said.
"The advantages of the donkeys is the fact there is one between two students so the students get to spend more time with the animal and by the end of the year we hope to auction the trained donkeys.
"The students can prepare the donkeys for sale and demonstrate how to handle them to potential buyers."
The school has already received inquiries about the donkeys from people who want them as guardian animals, companion animals and using them as for trekking tourism and breaking them into harness.
It is hoped that their training at the school will enable the donkeys to adjust to their new lives and make them easy to care for once re-homed including the regular husbandry of having their feet trimmed and being drenched.
St Catherine's is planning to keep one jack as a guardian animal for use on their own farm where this year lambs were killed by foxes.
"Our students are loving the work with the donkeys and it comes at a time due to COVID-19 where there is no excursions no sport so they were keen for something new and exciting on the farm," Ms Towers said.
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