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Radiocaesium variability within sheep flocks: relationships between the 137Cs activity concentrations of individual ewes within a flock and between ewes and their progeny

Beresford, N.A.; Barnett, C.L.; Crout, N.M.J.; Morris, C.C.. 1996 Radiocaesium variability within sheep flocks: relationships between the 137Cs activity concentrations of individual ewes within a flock and between ewes and their progeny. Science of the Total Environment, 177 (1-3). 85-96. 10.1016/0048-9697(95)04863-4

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Abstract/Summary

As a consequence of radiocaesium deposition following the Chernobyl accident the movement and slaughter of sheep were restricted within some upland areas of the United Kingdom. Considerable variability in the radiocaesium activity concentrations between individual sheep within flocks has been recorded. This paper reports studies conducted to investigate the reasons for this within flock variability on three farms in the restricted area of west Cumbria. On each farm, study sheep were selected and live-monitored over the period 1991–1993. Results from all three study farms showed a correlation in the 137Cs activity concentration of individual sheep on different monitoring occasions. This observation suggested that a few sheep on each farm are likely to be responsible for the continuation of restrictions on many of the affected holdings. Comparisons between monitoring data obtained in summer and autumn months were better correlated than those involving data collected in the winter and spring. Prior to weaning there was a linear relationship between the 137Cs levels in the muscle of a lamb and that in the muscle of its dam. Given these observations it is suggested that, in successive years, ewes identified as consistently having high radiocaesium levels in their muscle will produce lambs which will also have comparatively high levels of radiocaesium; the limited data available support this hypothesis. However, no relationship between the 137Cs activity concentration of a ewe and its lamb was evident post-weaning, thereby discounting any possibility of an inherited effect. On one of the farms a significant difference was found between the 137Cs activity concentration of different breeds of sheep

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/0048-9697(95)04863-4
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Other
CEH Sections: _ Pre-2000 sections
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Keywords: radioecology, radiocaesium, within flock variability, sheep, Chernobyl, Cumbria
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 11 Jun 2012 08:57
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/17818

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