SREL Reprint #2077





Production of poultry in radiologically contaminated areas

Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, University of Georgia, Aiken, South Carolina, United States of America


Exploiting the physiological and ecological characteristics of domesticated species has seldom been considered as a means of returning radiologically contaminated areas to safe agricultural production. However, the proper choice of cultivated and domesticated species, together with appropriate husbandry practices, may allow safe production of foods, fibre and energy. As an example, factors that could permit safe production of food products for human consumption from poultry raised in contaminated areas are considered. These factors include radionuclide transfer from the environment into poultry and methods for reducing radionuclide uptake and/or decontaminating chickens to yield acceptable food products. Studies of growth and feed intake rates of chickens under intensive management and free-ranging husbandries, 137Cs uptake by chickens exposed to contaminated sediments, potential effects of husbandry on 137Cs concentrations and 137Cs elimination by chickens after removal of contaminated feed are described. Data from these and other studies are combined in simulation models of the 137Cs kinetics of chickens. Chicken product 137Cs concentrations (137Cs) decrease with increases in body mass, apparently as a result of decreasing mass specific intake rates. Husbandries that increase contaminant intake (e.g. free-ranging rearing conditions versus brooder house production) or access to contaminated soils (e.g. scattering feed directly onto contaminated soils versus the use of feeders) increase total body [137Cs]S . However, model simulations indicate that it is possible to produce safe poultry products (especially eggs) at all but unrealistically high feed contamination levels. Even when dietary 137Cs levels produce [137Cs]S in poultry products that exceed acceptable limits, the high metabolism of poultry leads to a rapid decrease in [137Cs] s once the chickens are placed on uncontaminated rations. This permits the use of contaminated feed or forage for most of the growing period of chickens.

SREL Reprint #2077

Peters, E.L., I.L. Brisbin, Jr., and R.A. Kennamer. 1995. Alternative agriculture as a substitute for environmental remediation. p. 523-537. In Proceedings of an International Symposium on Environmental Impact of Radioactive Releases: Organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency,8-12 May, Vienna, Austria.

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