Lambing time is one of the busiest times of the year and finding extra pairs of experienced hands can be extremely difficult when few are keen to work late at night or at weekends.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has come up with its own way to address this problem in the NSA Lambing List, which connects sheep farming members who need assistance at this busy time with agricultural and veterinary students looking for a work experience placement as part of their studies.

“The NSA Lambing List is hugely valued by both the sheep farmers and students who use it," said Hannah Park, NSA communications officer.

"Year on year the popularity of the service is growing and it is always pleasing getting such a fantastic uptake. It’s a very simple but effective process – we collate a list of NSA members looking for help at lambing time and produce an advert so students can approach them directly to ask for a placement.”

NSA members wanting to advertise on the list must complete a short application form at providing brief details of their lambing system and the experience and position they can offer, including provision of accommodation, meals and other details. Adverts are listed in the order they are submitted, so NSA members are encouraged to get adverts in as early as possible.

Sheep farmers who are interested in using the list but are not yet NSA members can find a membership application form at

The service could not be simpler for students looking for a placement, with adverts split into regions to highlight positions available in different areas of the UK and overseas. The list can be found via the lambing and work experience pages at

Once NSA has verified the information you have provided, it is published on the NSA Lambing List in the 'work experience' area at which is an open access page that all students can view.

The list is aimed at students seeking a work experience placement and NSA does everything it can to make it clear that farmers using the list are not offering paid or permanent positions. All placements are agreed between farmer and student; NSA is only responsible for registering and publishing details. It is up to the individual to decide if a student is suitable or not.

Sheep farmers do not have to the take the first student who applies. Lots of students use the list and it is unlikely that you'll only be approached by one. Ask the questions to see if they will suit your system. Once a suitable student has been found, individual farmers are asked to notify NSA and their advert will be taken down.

In advance or immediately the student arrives, they should be introduced to your farm and given an overview of their tasks and what is expected of them. To prevent problems further down the line, agree hours, accommodation, provision of meals, clothing requirements, washing facilities, breaks and days off, and wages/payment if this is something you intend on providing.

Explain how to use medicines, injection sites, husbandry proceedures (eg castration and tail docking and give supervision until you are sure they are competent. Even if a student advertises themselves as experienced, farms they've previously worked on might have had different systems and practices.

Remember, students are there to learn so review their progress periodically and be prepared to provide additional training if needed. Be prepared to answer questions at appropriate times and explain proceedures if if they seem obvious.