Hatching Duck Eggs in a Suro: Day 31 and WRAP-UP

Brickman House

10 Years
Feb 24, 2009
Hi all,

I just set my first batch of duck eggs in my new RCom Suro. Since the Suro is a new-ish incubator, and since there seems to be a lot more chicken than duck hatchers around here, I thought I'd chronicle the experience to add to the already great bank of information around here!

I have a small backyard flock with one Pekin drake, 2 Cayuga hens, 2 Blue Swedish hens, 2 Pekin hens, and one Rouen hen, so the ducklings will be all Pekins or Pekin crosses.

Prior to setting: I collected 6 eggs on March 1, 6 eggs on March 2, and 6 eggs today, March 3. I kept them at room temperature (low 60's F) in a plain old wire basket until I was ready to set them, raising one end or the other over the couple days when I thought about it, but not on any particular schedule. My ducks do their level best to totally bury their eggs, so they were pretty filthy. Nothing's going to change that particular habit of theirs, so collecting clean duck eggs just isn't going to happen for me, which means I had to wade into the egg washing debates here and decide what to do. I ultimately decided to gently rinse the worst of the muck off with plain water warmer than the egg, and pat them dry. I marked each egg in one place, along the center of its long side, with the collection date with a Sharpie marker.

I fiddled with the incubator for three days prior to setting the eggs, until I was able to get it to maintain a steady temperature of 99.5 degrees F, and a humidity of 55%. My primary problem was getting the humidity high enough. I tried completely closing the small vent hole on top of the incubator, and setting the water pump as high as it would go, but to no avail. I finally solved the problem by putting the larger sponge panel in, which worked almost immediately. The Suro directions say that the small sponge panel should work to maintain humidity of between 45-55%, but it clearly wasn't cutting it in the higher end of that range for me. My room humidity is in the low 30%'s, so your mileage may vary.

DAY 1: Eggs set at 9 am. Incubator temperature came back to 99.5 F within 20 minutes of closing the lid. Humidity took longer, though. It was at 45% and steadily climbing when I had to leave the house at 10:30 am, so I'd bet it reached 55% with no problem by noon or so. If I'd kept pressing the manual humidity button on the incubator, I probably could have gotten it higher sooner, but within a couple hours should be good enough, I think. Here's the set up:


UPDATE ON DAY 1, 5 pm: Well, humidity didn't rise as I'd expected when I got home at 3:30-- it was only at 48%, so I've had to press the manual pump button several times to raise it. It's at 53% now, so we'll see how it holds.

SECOND UPDATE ON DAY 1, 7 pm: Ugh! I figured out why the incubator wasn't holding humidity like I thought it would-- I had the top on slightly wrong, so there was a little crack at the back leaking air. I fixed it, and that should mean I've fixed the problem.

THIRD UPDATE ON DAY 1, 11 pm: Well, the humidity bounced around all evening after I finally figured out the lid for the incubator wasn't on quite right. Once I got the lid on straight, the humidity shot up to around 75%. Of course, I couldn't leave well enough alone, and had to mess with it some to try and lower the humidity. I would periodically take the lid off, wipe out the condensation, and put it right back on. I probably could have (and should have) just let it be, but the fact that this incubator returns to ideal temperature SO fast after opening it makes it really easy. I don't know whether that's good or bad. At any rate, as of 10 pm tonight, the incubator is holding steady at 99.5 F and 55% humidity.

This hasn't been the absolute perfect start to the hatch, but I do know I'm learning more and more about how this thing works each hour. It's really kind of cool! Today's lesson on the RCom Suro (aside from making sure the incubator lid's on solidly): Temperature's not an issue, it will return back to set level within 20 minutes at the absolute outside. As long as everything's on right, humidity will rise 1-2% each time you press the manual water pump button for a 2 minute cycle. Good to know, especially if I want to raise humidity quickly at lockdown.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be MUCH less eventful!
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DAY 2: Temperature holding rock steady at 99.5 F, humidity at 55%:


Today is much less eventful than yesterday. Let's hope that trend continues until lockdown!
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I set 6 duck eggs in my Brinsea Octagon 20 ECO Tuesday. I've hatched chicks in it, but this is my "test batch" of duck eggs in this 'bator. It should be interesting to compare our experiences, since the Octagon 20 and the Suro are sort of direct competitors. Mine isn't the "Advanced" model though, so you have far more precise controls than I do!

My eggs are out of my Hookbill hen and most likely fertilized by my super-ambitious Runner drake. I haven't seen the Hookbill drake mate with her at all. But that's okay, the ducklings should be very cute little mutts!

So far, my temperature has held rock-solid at 99.7 - the humidity in our house right now is hovering around 60%, so I'm dry-incubating and carefully monitoring the air cells.

I have a new AWESOME LED flashlight that has 21 little bulbs in it, and I candled last night at about the 30 hour point - there is definite cell division going on in all 6 eggs! I'll try to get pictures up later today, but this early on, what you're looking for is a slightly darker orange circle on the top of the yolk (this is the germinal disk). I candled again this morning (since this is a test batch, I'm going to be doing a LOT of candling. No more than 10 minutes out of the 'bator at a time though, and no more than twice a day) and the germinal discs have noticeably grown overnight! It's super-exciting because these eggs were laid in 10-20 degree temperatures and most of them were very cold by the time I collected them, so I had my doubts that they would develop at all!

Good luck to the both of us! My hatch date should be the day before yours!
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Oh, cool! We should definitely compare notes throughout the hatch-- there are so few of us hatching duck eggs on here, I didn't think I'd find anyone hatching at the same time. It's a plus that we've got similar incubators, too!

I definitely don't have as great a flashlight as you do, but if you get a chance to post pics of what I'm looking for, I'm totally game to try and see the germinal disk, too. I'm a little concerned about fertility with these eggs, because I only have the one drake with the seven hens, and while he does his job, he's never been particularly good at it. So it'd be great to know if I'm on the right track with these eggs so early.
I took some pictures this morning - I'm going to try and get better ones tonight, and then start a thread with day-by-day updates. There isn't much on BYC about duck egg-candling, so I'm hoping that I'll be useful to members who are trying to hatch ducklings!


My flashlight was only $5 on sale at Menards - any high-intensity LED flashlight would work just as well. I think the fact that it gives of a bright blue-ish light helps with candling - a yellow-ish light blends with the yolk color and makes everything harder to see. With the blue-ish light, everything's more clearly defined.
DAY 3: Temperature holding rock steady at 99.5 F, humidity at 55%. Wow, this hatching thing gets real easy once you get the incubator right. The Suro certainly seems to be living up to its "set and forget" billing.


I grabbed an egg out of the fridge, and dug through our flashlight collection yesterday, trying to find something that would give off a good enough light for candling. Nothing worked particularly well, so I'm going to hunt for a good LED flashlight this weekend.
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DAY 4: Temperature still holding steady at 99.5 F, and humidity at 55 %.

Thus far, I am REALLY impressed with this incubator. It is set up in our kitchen, which is a high traffic area of our house, so I pass by it several times a day. I've never seen the temperature waver by more than .1 or .2 degrees, and have never seen the humidity waver more than 2%. Being a kitchen, the room temperature and humidity can fluctuate pretty significantly throughout the day, but it doesn't seem to phase the Suro.


So far, so good!
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DAY 5: Temperature holding steady at 99.5 F, humidity at 55 %.

Is it weird that I grab a glass of wine and drag over a counter stool, and sit there and stare at the eggs in the incubator? I tell myself I'm checking the stability of the temperature and humidity, but seriously. . . what do I expect is going to happen?

UPDATE, DAY 5: We got a good LED flashlight, and candled the eggs tonight. It is absolutely remarkable what you can see! Surprisingly, my utterly inept drake is apparently not so inept, because we clearly saw a very tiny embryo and veining in 17 out of 18:


How cool is that?

Only one had nothing going on, and it was really clear there was Just. Nothing. Going. On:


So we pitched that one, and I cut a small ring out of a paper towel holder to take its place to keep the spacing so the other eggs will stay upright:


Temperature and humidity returned to 99.5 F and 55% within minutes, even though the lid was off the incubator for 10 minutes or so. So far, so good!
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How do you have your eggs set in the incubator? I also have the suro and have 8 call duck eggs in mine currently (on day 14). My eggs roll all over even thought I have the barriors going accross in the incubator. The eggs vary so much in size, so some with stay put wedged between those white dividers. Mine like to roll around!
Well, call duck eggs are quite a bit smaller than standard size duck eggs, aren't they? Honestly, I think just got lucky that my standard size duck eggs fit perfectly six across in three rows.

I will be hatching different sized chicken eggs next time around, though, and knowing what I know now, I'll probably do one of two things: either forget the dividers altogether, and cut a paper egg carton to fit, or just do what I did this time and slide paper towel or toilet paper roll rings in between the eggs to keep them snug.

The paper towel roll ring worked really well for me this time-- why not try cutting a few out, and slipping them between your call duck eggs to stop the sliding and rolling?

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