Seventy-eight lambs, 9 weeks of age, the offspring of sires of the Scottish Blackface, East Friesland, Finnish Landrace, Suffolk and Texel breeds mated to Scottish Blackface females, as a common maternal breed, were given a barley-fish meal diet containing 1-6 g magnesium and 5·9 g phosphorus per kg dry matter for 13 weeks. Urinary excretion of Mg and P was estimated from the ratio of Mg or P to creatinine in spot samples of urine. A relationship between creatinine excretion and live weight was obtained using total urine excretion from a sample of 20 lambs, two of each sex from each sire breed group. Good agreement was found between the actual and predicted urinary excretion of minerals by the 20 lambs on three occasions.
The effect of sire breed on urinary excretion of P was significant (P < 0·05) and the breed types ranked, in descending order of excretion rate, Texel, Blackface, East Friesland, Finnish Landrace and Suffolk, with a four-fold difference in excretion rate between Texel and Suffolk. This difference in urinary excretion of P was taken as evidence of breed differences in efficiency of absorption of dietary P.
Urinary excretion of Mg was correlated with the intake of Mg. The mean estimated efficiency of absorption of dietary Mg varied, over the three occasions, from 0·42 to 0·50 and from 0·39 to 0·45 for total collections and for spot samples of urine respectively. Individual variation in the estimated efficiency of absorption within sires was not significant whereas that between sires was significant (P < 0·05). Heritability was estimated to be 0·62 (s.e. 0·30).