Differentiating between fertilized and unfertilized eggs prior to incubation based on oxygen flux measurement

Wang Qiaohua, Fu Dandan, Ma Meihu, Zhang Tao


One unresolved challenge in the egg industry is how to efficiently and non-invasively detect unfertilized eggs prior to incubation. This detection ability would not only significantly improve hatching rates and reduce costs but also conserve incubator space and prevent poor-quality embryos from contributing to the spread of infections. This study demonstrates a procedure for distinguishing between fertilized and unfertilized eggs prior to incubation by studying the respiratory differences between fertilized and unfertilized eggs using the Non-invasive Micro-test Technique (NMT). A customized micro-testing examination platform, NMT Egg Testing System (NMT-ETS) was constructed for the real-time monitoring of the intensity and rate of oxygen exchange between the egg and its external environment. The results from this study revealed that at room temperature, there is a significant difference in gas exchange rates between fertilized and unfertilized eggs. The results indicate that the oxygen flux of fertilized eggs exceed 20 pmol/(cm2•s), whereas unfertilized eggs show a much lower oxygen flux. Based on the results, the NMT method can be used to effectively distinguish between fertilized and unfertilized chicken eggs.
Keywords: oxygen flux, gas exchange rates, fertilized eggs, unfertilized eggs, non-invasive micro-test technique
DOI: 10.25165/j.ijabe.20171004.2606

Citation: Wang Q H, Fu D D, Ma M H, Zhang T. Differentiating between fertilized and unfertilized eggs prior to incubation based on oxygen flux measurement. Int J Agric & Biol Eng, 2017; 10(4): 243–251.


oxygen flux, gas exchange rates, fertilized eggs, unfertilized eggs, non-invasive micro-test technique


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