We presently have six Indian Runner ducks, four females and two drakes. As a family, we’ve fallen head over heels in love with the breed. Because of their upright stance, they’re hilarious to watch. Ours are a variety of colors, including fawn & white, black, blue, and mallard/brown.
About Indian Runners
If you’re new to flock keeping, or just considering adding ducks to your flock of chickens, Runners are the ideal bird of choice. They’re quite docile, humorous to watch, and tend to get along with other members of a flock quite well, especially when introduced at a young age. Weighing between 3-4 lbs., they eat less than larger duck breeds.
There is a lot of dispute regarding the history of the breed, but they definitely originated in Southeast Asia, and were introduced to the United Kingdom in the late 1800’s. Bred primarily for insect control and egg production, they are not a good breed for meat because of their unusually slender build.
In our own experience, Indian Runners have been highly compatible with chickens. Upon first being introduced, the chickens were a bit annoyed and territorial. They chased the smaller ducks away from food and water sources, so we had to start out by placing extra food and water sources in the pen. It only took 3-4 days until the hens let up and became more accepting. Now, the ducks tower above the hens and there are no rivalries, only harmony.
Speaking of harmony, chickens like to take dirt baths, creating depressed areas in the soil. When it rains, these depressions turn into perfect puddles for the ducks. Ducks, especially the drakes, tend to be even more vigilant about watching for predators. We’ve noticed our drake warning the flock of a hawk overhead, and they all run for cover together. We feel our whole flock is safer because we’ve added ducks. Another harmonious aspect to keeping them together is that they can eat the same feed. They both consume our scraps, and there is no need for separate feed, or separate containers. Ducks do just fine on chicken feed, and we feed ours the layer pellets. Chickens love eating our pulled weeds from the garden, but ducks will consume anything the chickens don’t want.
Aren’t Ducks Messy?
We have been asked this a lot. We’re reasonably tidy about our little urban farmstead, so if ducks were complete slobs we wouldn’t have them. That said, if you purchase several ducklings and keep them inside a small area, they are messy. Going small creates an unnatural environment for them, and if any of us were forced to live in such conditions, we’d be a mess, too. Once ducks are allowed in an area with a nice run (minimum of 10 x 10 feet for up to five ducks, they aren’t any more messy than chickens. That has been our experience with Runners. There may be other duck breeds that aren’t as clean, but the most mess a Runner makes is a very stinky duck house if it isn’t cleaned out once a week.
All ducks love water, but domesticated ducks do not need a pond, or large body of water. They’re perfectly content with just a small trough filled with water, or one of those tiny plastic baby pools. I know people who don’t offer their ducks anything but small water bowls, however they do need to get their heads wet, and it’s nice when they can soak themselves head to toe. Ducks don’t do dirt baths like chickens, so we believe they need to submerge in water daily. Our Runners don’t even make a mess with their little pool by muddying up the run, although we keep straw in the run to keep it more dry and clean. Our Runners get in and out of the water a lot, and spend a lot of time drinking from it, but again, they don’t need a huge water source to be joyful and fulfilled.
What are the eggs like?
Most people have never tried ducks eggs. We hadn’t until fairly recently, but discovered they are much richer than chicken eggs. The shells are very hard, blueish-green, and when cracked open they appear to look like any other egg. They’re thicker, and excellent for baking. They’re also much higher in nutrients than chicken eggs.
DUCK EGGS: We’re hoping to offer a supply of fresh duck eggs when all the Runner hens are laying, which will probably be by Winter of 2011-2012. Presently, due to all our chicken eggs, we often have duck eggs to spare, so if you’d like us to set some aside for you just write to: email@example.com