Evaluation of a non-destructive method for determining egg composition using total body electrical conductivity (TOBEC) measurements



It is widely assumed that there is a positive relationship between egg quality (or egg size) and offspring fitness. However, obtaining unequivocal data in support of this hypothesis has been hampered by the lack of any method for non-destructive determination of egg composition, preventing a direct analysis of egg quality and subsequent chick growth and survival in the same egg(s). In this paper, we describe the application of a rapid, non-destructive technique using measurement of total body electrical conductivity (TOBEC) for determination of egg composition in intact eggs. The TOBEC index was positively and highly correlated with egg lean mass and with the mass of some egg components (albumen and water content). Values for predicted lean mass, based on the regression equation for lean mass against TOBEC index, were within ±6% of actual lean mass. Egg lipid mass was most accurately predicted (±15%) using a multiple regression model, with fresh egg mass and TOBEC index included as independent variables. Egg temperature, and the position of the egg in the sampling chamber, markedly affected the TOBEC index obtained.