Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 March 2007
1. A low-sodium diet was given to Blackface ewes over two reproductive seasons; the diet provided 3–7 mmol Na daily, except for the period of lactation, when Na intake was increased to around 11 mmol/d. The diet of the control ewes was supplemented with sodium chloride to provide the recommended allowance of about ten times the level in the experimental low-Na diet.
2. Milk production was assessed during the first 2 months of lactation from incremental changes in the live weight of lambs during controlled sucking periods. Na and potassium were determined in milk and also in plasma, saliva and urine.
3. Neither yield nor concentration of Na and K in milk was affected by the level of Na in the diet. These results were supported by the similarity in live-weight gain of lambs in both years regardless of diet.
4. Plasma Na and K concentrations were not affected by the level of dietary Na. Na concentration in saliva and urine was significantly lower in the treated than in the control ewes, and K concentration in saliva was significantly higher.