I'm leaning towards any significant contact. Its an alchemical object, not a spell, so it is not especially user-friendly. Use non-leather gloves (to avoid cloning a cow :) ) when handling it.
The Egg is the starting physical form of the clone that appears later, so while you could replace it with something else, the process as I see it here is a physical one. Also, the result of this item is not a Doppelganger as in a shape-changing creature, but a real copy of the subject. For example, the effect cannot be dispelled and would persist even if subjected to powerful anti-magic effects. The magic of the egg ends when the new creature hatches.
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