Indian Runner Duck – Breed Profile & Facts

The Indian Runner duck is among the easily recognizable duck breeds. This breed has been popular for years, thanks to its distinctive appearance, high egg production, and charming temperament.

Indian Runner ducks resemble penguins, which most people refer to these ducks as Penguin ducks. Duck keepers raise the breed exclusively for egg production rather than meat production.

History of Indian Runner Duck

Indian Runner ducks have been in existence for over 200 years. Ancient Java temples had images similar to these ducks’ distinctive body shapes. These ducks originate from the Indonesia islands. Members of this duck breed were prevalent in Bali and India. Indian Runner ducks spread to Europe and throughout the Americas in the 1800s.

Indian Runner Duck Characteristics

These ducks are a lightweight duck breed. They have distinctive long, slim, and upright bodies like penguins. These ducks have the longest necks of all duck species. Their wedge-shaped skulls, straight bills, and eyes that stand high on their heads make these ducks unique.

Their strong legs sit perfectly behind their bodies, while their tails are neat and compact. Members of the Indian Runner duck breed come in multiple colors, more than other varieties of domestic ducks. Some of the common colors of these ducks include black, blue, light brown, and dark brown. Some Indian Runner ducks also have brownish shades of green.

– Size & Weight

Indian Runner ducks stand between 20 and 26 inches on average, from the tips of their tails to their crowns. Mature Indian Runner drakes weigh approximately 3.5 pounds and 6 pounds on average. Adult Indian Runner hens weigh between 3 and 4 pounds.

– Temperament

Indian Runner ducks are superbly intelligent birds. They are wonderfully social and pretty excitable. Although these birds are friendly to people, especially their keepers, they are high-strung birds that are timid but easily trainable. Although hens are noisier than drakes, Indian Runners are overly calm birds.

Indian Runner ducks are among the most active and docile duck breeds. These ducks are excellent foragers, perhaps the most active foragers of all duck breeds, making them suitable for pest control. They cover large areas while foraging insects, snails, seeds, and slugs.

– Lifespan

Indian Runner ducks may be weird-looking birds, but they are superbly hardy. On average, domestic India Runners live roughly between 8 and 12 years. However, in the wild, these ducks have a remarkably short lifespan since most of them only live for two years.

– Egg Production

Indian Runners are among the most terrific layers of all the egg-laying duck breeds. On average, Indian Runner hens lay between 300 and 350 eggs yearly. Hens lay super large-sized eggs, otherwise known as jumbo size eggs.

Indian Runner eggs weigh between 2.8 and 3.2 ounces, although some well-fed hens can lay large jumbo-sized eggs. Hens lay eggs that come in blue and white shades.

Indian Runner hens are among the most reliable and efficient layers. These hens lay consistently for between four and five years. The quantity of eggs starts to diminish after five years, although the quality of the eggs keeps improving until hens stop laying. Unlike other ducks that yearn to breed in the water while breeding, Indian Runner hens seldom breed in water.

The other huge plus with keeping Indian Runners for eggs is that hens from this intriguing duck breed seldom go broody. Even after laying many eggs, Indian Runner hens will rarely be keen on sitting on their eggs.

Indian Runner hens also remain great layers in winter. Although hens won’t lay as many eggs as they lay in summer, they still produce a decent quantity of eggs in winter when other ducks breeds can’t lay at all due to cold.

Besides boasting some of the biggest duck eggs, Indian Runners also have some of the finest and highly nutritious eggs compared to eggs from many duck breeds. The strong, subtle flavor of Indian Runner eggs is a key reason for duck keepers to keep Indian Runners primarily for egg production.

Indian Runner eggs have the highest protein concentration of all the duck eggs. Furthermore, these eggs have loads of essential nutrients like vitamins, niacin, and potassium. Better still, you can consume these eggs in different ways. For instance, you can either fry or hard boil your Indian Runner eggs. Or, you can use the eggs to prepare tasty egg salads, and omelets.

– Meat Production

Although Indian Runners are exceptionally good layers, these ducks score dismally regarding meat production. These ducks are overly lightweight, making them unsuitable for meat production.

Nevertheless, their flesh to bone remains high compared to other ducks. The meat from Indian Runner ducks boasts an exceptional flavor, which some say is pretty similar to the meat from wild ducks.

Indian Runner ducks have little to no body fat. Therefore, their meat is wonderfully lean and less creamy like the meat from most large domestic ducks. Although they produce low meat qualities, Indian runners have some of the finest duck meat. The meat from a mature Indian Runner drake or hen is enough for two people.

Indian Runner Duck Care

Indian Runner ducks are quite hardy and adept foragers. They can be excellent layers irrespective of their living conditions. Furthermore, these ducks seldom succumb to most poultry diseases.

That notwithstanding, Indian Runners still require proper care like other duck breeds to be at their best. Proper feeding and nutrition are vital for Indian runner ducks. Whereas Indian Runner ducks have no special dietary and housing needs, a proper diet and good living conditions will keep these terrific layers happy and healthy.

– Feeding & Nutrition

Among the many things that Indian Runner Duck keepers wonder is what to feed their ducks. Nonetheless, there is no answer to what you should feed your Indian Runners since the diet for these birds can vary significantly depending on the sex of the ducks, age, and time of the year.

If you are keeping free-range Indian Runners, you don’t need to bother about what to provide your ducks with since they will get an adequate amount of food on their own.

Some of the favorite foods for free-range Indian Runners include worms, bugs, and slugs. Their food will also include greens, including duckweed and grass. However, diet becomes a concern when you keep your Indian Runners indoors.

Laying Indian Runner hens need quality layer pellets. These pellets should contain phosphorus and calcium, essential minerals for egg-laying Indian Runner hens. Feed your hens with dry pellets in the evening before the hens go to roost.

Although poultry layers pellets are healthy for egg-laying Indian Runner hens, most of these pellets contain harmful additives like egg-yolk color. Furthermore, the calcium content in these pellets is too high, which can cause chemical imbalances in your hens’ bodies.

Indian Runner hens also need a healthy balance of phosphorus and calcium for eggshell formation. Therefore, feeding your hens with quality feed containing these vital minerals is essential. The best feed for egg-laying Indian Runner hens should contain approximately 0.6% phosphorus and 3% calcium.

Winter is the toughest month for ducks, including Indian Runner ducks. That’s why wheat makes one of the finest energy-giving foods for Indian Runners in winter. Wheat contains a higher protein content than corn. Furthermore, wheat has huge traces of vitamin B, which is crucial for boosting your ducks’ immunity.

When your Indian Runner ducklings finally hatch, it is crucial to provide them with chick crumbs rather than pellets. Chick crumbs have a high ratio of protein, which helps chicks grow muscle quickly within the first weeks after hatching. Chick crumbs also have calcium, an essential mineral that helps ducklings develop strong bones, especially leg and wing bones.

Indian Runner Drakes also need food with a decent amount of protein, although not as high as the protein in ducklings and egg-laying hens’ feed. Drakes need more energy since they use plenty of energy while mounting on hens during the breeding season.

Drakes also use energy while walking around to check for anything that endangers the lives of other flock members. Wheat is among the best energy-giving foods for drakes. Furthermore, drakes need calcium and sulfates for growth and healing.

Overly, Indian Runners require a mix of nutrients and minerals to grow happy and healthy. Since these ducks won’t get all the vital minerals and nutrients in their everyday foods, supplementation is critical while feeding your Indian Runner ducks.

Suppose you suspect your Indian Runners could be having a certain mineral deficiency, calcium deficiency, for instance. In that case, it will help to toss a few tablespoons of calcium powder over the ducks’ food.

As much as a proper diet is essential for Indian Runner ducks, water is vital. Indian Runners go through the preening process like other duck breeds. Preening is a process whereby ducks and other birds groom their feathers to keep them in proper condition.

Indian ducks, too, require water while undergoing this process. Furthermore, Indian Runners need water for thermoregulation. Ensure there is clean water around for your birds.

– Housing

Although Indian Runners have no particular housing requirements, these birds need good housing like any other duck species. The ideal housing for Indian Runners should provide each Indian Runner in your flock with about four sq. ft. of floor space. Since Indian Runners have long necks, these ducks need a tall cage to flex their long necks comfortably.

Indian Runners sleep on the floor rather than roosting on perches like chickens. Therefore, they need comfortable bedding to keep them dry and warm. You can either use sawdust, wood shavings, or straw for your ducks’ bedding.

While Indian Runners don’t eat much like heavyweight duck breeds such as Pekin ducks, they still excrete substantial waste. Therefore, you will have to replace the bedding frequently lest your ducks make the cage messy and filthy due to waste buildup in their cage.

Lighting is especially crucial for egg-laying Indian Runner hens. These hens need at least ten hours of light exposure to lay efficiently. Place the duck cage in a place that allows light to enter the cage unobstructed by objects such as walls and trees. Alternatively, use artificial lighting to keep your duck cage properly lit, particularly at night.

Although Indian Runners are cold-resistant, they also need to keep warm like other duck breeds, especially ducklings which are pretty fragile. Installing a heat lamp in the ducks’ cage is a sure way of keeping your Indian Runners warm.

– Health Problems

It is true that Indian Runners aren’t only hardy but also disease-resistant. Nonetheless, Indian Runners aren’t completely immune to deadly diseases that kill many duck breeds annually. If you fail to take action and vaccinate your birds frequently, they will succumb to various health problems.

For instance, Indian Runners are especially vulnerable to Riemerella anatipestifer, a severe bacterial infection that causes diarrhea and weight loss in Indian Runner ducks. This condition causes high mortality, especially in Indian Runner ducklings.

Duck plague is also a common health issue in Indian Runner ducks. The viral disease causes serious health problems within days of infection. Symptoms of duck plague in Indian Runners include loss of coordination, ruffled feathers, and depression.

Can Indian Runner Ducks Fly?

No, Indian Runners can’t fly. Their intriguing body shape hinders them from flying even for short distances. Unlike other birds, these birds don’t waddle but rather run.

How Much Do Indian Runner Ducks Cost?

Price is an important factor worth considering for anyone striving to keep Indian Runners for eggs. Interestingly, Indian Runners are some of the cheapest duck breeds. Ducklings can cost below $5, while young Indian Runners can cost slightly below $10. Hens cost less than $15, while drakes cost slightly above $10.

Are Indian Runner Ducks Loud?

Indian Runners can be noisy but not as loud as other duck breeds like Campbells. Hens are the noisiest, but not that loud. Drakes tend to remain quiet, although they can be loud while giving warning calls to flock members if they perceive any threats.


Indian Runners may seem quite weird and intriguing . However, these ducks are among the world’s best laying duck breeds. They might be lightweight but a priceless gift for those keen on getting reliable layers. In addition, these ducks are way hardy and easier to maintain than other large duck breeds.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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