1. Eight groups, each of five steers, were given a basal ration of sorghum grain plus urea and minerals (0.003% sodium) ad lib. and demineralized water. Two groups, one given coarsely rolled and the other finely ground grain, were given the basal ration alone or the basal ration supplemented with 3.25, 6.50 or 13.0 g Na/animal daily as NaHCO3. Mean daily intakes of Na per animal for each of the four treatments were 133 mg, 3.1, 6.0 and 11.4g, respectively.
2. The mean growth rate of steers given the basal ration was 059 kg/d, which was significantly less than that of steers ingesting 3.1 g Na/d (093 kg/d). There were no significant differences in the growth rates of steers ingesting 3.1, 6.0 and 11.4g Na/d.
3. The concentration of Na in the saliva from the steers fed on the basal ration was significantly less and the concentration of potassium significantly greater than those from steers with Na intakes of 3.1 g or more per d. The mean Na:K ratio of the saliva from steers given the basal ration was less than unity, whereas the ratio in the saliva from steers ingesting 3.1g or more Na/d varied between 11 and 21.
4. The concentrations of Na in the ruminal fluid were significantly less in steers given the basal ration than in those ingesting 3.1 g or more Na/d.
5. The widths of the cortex and the zona glomerulosa as a percentage of the adrenal cortex were significantly greater in steers given the basal ration only than in those given Na intakes of 3.1 g/d. There were no significant differences in the width of the zona glomedosa of the adrenals from steers ingesting 3.1, 6.0 or 11.4g Na/d.
6. A Na and K balance conducted on two steers given the basal ration only for a further 112 d after the other steers were slaughtered indicated that faecal and urinary Na losses approximated to the Na intake, but there was a positive K balance. When these steers were subsequently given a supplement of 380 m-equiv. Na/d for 16 d they retained 370 m-equiv. Na/d and were in negative K balance.
7. It is suggested that the value given by the Agricultural Research Council (1965)for the Na requirement of steers for growth is excessive.
8. Steers given coarsely rolled grain ate significantly more feed per d than those given finely ground grain, but rate of body-weight gain was not affected by the method of grain processing.