True metabolizable energy (TME) is a measure of avian dietary quality that accounts for metabolic fecal and endogenous urinary energy losses (EL) of non-dietary origin. The TME is calculated using a bird fed the test diet and an estimate of EL derived from another bird (Paired Bird Correction), the same bird (Self Correction), or several other birds (Group Mean Correction). We evaluated precision of these estimators by using each to calculate TME of three seed diets in blue-winged teal (Anas discors). The TME varied by <2% among estimators for all three diets, and Self Correction produced the least variable TMEs for each. The TME did not differ between estimators in nine paired comparisons within diets, but variation between estimators within individual birds was sufficient to be of practical consequence. Although differences in precision among methods were slight, Self Correction required the lowest sample size to achieve a given precision. Feeding trial methods that minimize variation among individuals have several desirable properties, including higher precision of TME estimates and more rigorous experimental control. Consequently, we believe that Self Correction is most likely to accurately represent nutritional value of food items and should be considered the standard method for TME feeding trials. ?? Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2005.
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Does choice of estimators influence conclusions from true metabolizable energy feeding trials?