Indirect calorimetry during incubation of hatching eggs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Indirect calorimetry can be used during incubation of avian eggs to monitor the quality of the incubation process, the development of the embryo and the utilization of nutrients. Indirect calorimetry has several benefits above direct calorimetry, particularly in hatching eggs. However, to obtain reliable measurements, some aspects of indirect calorimetry need to be taken into account. First, some attention is given to the use of respiration chambers for only one single egg or more eggs at the same time, with the advantages and disadvantages. Furthermore, attention is paid to the importance of using embryo or eggshell temperature as a tool to adjust the temperature in the respiration chamber. Since there is a strong relationship between embryo temperature and heat production (Q), the incubator temperature should be controlled depending on the desired eggshell temperature. Additionally, it is important to consider oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the chamber, as low partial O2 pressure is related to incubation at high altitude and high CO2 levels can result from insufficient ventilation. Besides abiotic factors affecting Q, such as temperature, biotic factors, like egg weight and age of the breeder, affect Q as well. Finally, the use of stable isotopes during incubation to determine oxidation of different nutrients during the incubation process will be addressed. We conclude that indirect calorimetry during incubation of hatching eggs can give insight in the development of the embryo and the utilization of egg nutrients throughout incubation. However, to prevent misinterpretation of the results, some incubation factors (like temperature, O2 and CO2 concentration) and egg characteristics (like weight, breed and breeder age) need to be monitored and controlled.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIndirect Calorimetry : Techniques, computations and applications
EditorsGerrits W.J.J., Labussière E.
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
ISBN (Electronic)9789086868094
ISBN (Print)9789086862610
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2015


  • chickens
  • stable isotopes
  • oxygen
  • carbon dioxide
  • eggshell temperature

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