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Indian Runner Duck Breed Profile

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When it comes to ducks, the Indian Runner duck literally stands head and shoulders above the rest. 

Known for their tall, upright stance, Indian Runner ducks prefer to remain grounded rather than take flight. 

These domestic delights are also prolific egg layers, making them the perfect addition to your flock. 

With their small wings and legs positioned way back on their bodies, these fabulous foragers love to rid any area of slugs, bugs, and snails.

Not only does this breed come in more colors than any other domestic duck, but Indian Runners have a friendly nature and are fun to watch as they free-range.

Keep reading to learn more about the Indian Runner duck!

Male Indian runner duck standing upright on lake shore

Key Information

Male Weight:3.5–5 lbs
Female Weight:3–4 lbs
Use:Eggs, Meat, Organic Pest Control
Egg Size:Large
Egg Production:5 to 6 per week
Broodiness level:Poor
Lifespan:8–12 years
Climate Tolerance:All Climates
Color:Wide variety of colors
Temperament:Active, Docile
Flying Ability:Poor


Even though there is evidence of ducks that resemble Indian Runners in Javan temple carvings dating back 2,000 years ago, we do know that this breed has lived in India and Indonesia for hundreds of years.

It was here that these ducks were herded on a daily basis while foraging for grain, snails, and other animals.

In the 1850s, Indian Runners were taken from Malaysia and brought to the shores of the United Kingdom.

Thanks to their egg-laying ability and unusual appearance, it didn’t take long for Runners to become extremely popular. 

By the end of the 19th century, this highly productive breed appeared on American soil, where it also became an instant hit with homesteaders.

White indian runner duck walking


Body Features

The Indian Runner duck has a unique look.

The Indian Runner duck stands straight, making it look tall. Some even compare its posture to a penguin’s.

This breed also has the longest neck of any duck species. Some refer to this breed as Penguin ducks or Bottlenecks.

Size and Weight

The Indian Runner duck typically does not weigh very much.

Indian Runner ducks stand between 20 and 26 inches tall and weight from 3.5-6 pounds. Drakes tend to weigh more than hens.


Indian Runner ducks’ eyes are dark brown, and their straight bill ranges from pale yellow to bright orange to almost black.

Runners have more color variations than any other duck breed, such as white, gray, black, and even chocolate. These colors vary depending on region and other factors.

Though its feathers may be a variety of colors, a Runner’s skin is always pink.

Indian runner ducks being herded by a border collie dog

Reasons to Breed Indian Runner Ducks

1. Excellent Egg-Laying Ducks

Quantity and Quality

Indian Runners are one of the best egg-laying duck breeds. On average, Indian Runner hens lay 300 to 350 eggs per year. 

Indian Runner ducks can start laying eggs as early as four months old, but this depends on the duck’s habitat, what it eats, and the weather. On average, this breed starts laying eggs at six months old.

These ducks’ eggs come in a wide range of colors, like white, blue, and light green. 

The eggs are especially large and often called “jumbo size” eggs, at around 65 grams each.

This species has a reputation as a reliable and prolific layer. Even during the winter, Indian Runner hens are productive laying birds. 

These hens lay eggs consistently for four to five years. After five years, hens lay fewer eggs, but the quality of these eggs usually improves.

Another benefit to Indian Runners is that the hens do not go broody. Indian Runner hens, despite their prolific egg-laying ability, rarely sit on their eggs.

Couple of indian runner duck walking near the wooden fence

Nutritional Value

Indian Runner ducks are known for producing some of the healthiest and most nutrient-dense eggs of any duck breed.

Indian Runner duck eggs have twice the nutritious value of chicken eggs and stay fresh for longer, thanks to their thicker shells.

The protein content is among the highest of any duck egg, making them a highly valuable food source. They also contain significant amounts of vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and niacin.

Collecting Eggs

Indian Runner ducks don’t always lay their eggs in the nest, so you may need to get creative when looking for them. Keep this in mind if you want this duck breed for eggs.

Hens lay most of their eggs between midnight and sunrise. Try to schedule your daily egg-collecting routine first thing in the morning.

2. Meat

Indian Runner ducks are lightweight ducks raised mostly for their eggs, but they can also be used for their meat.

The proportion of meat to bone is rather good, so even though they are on the smaller side for a typical meat bird, they are still quite tasty. Their meat is also less fatty than that of other duck breeds.

Some people compare the taste of Indian Runner meat to that of wild duck without being overly greasy.

3. Organic Pest Control

Indian runner duck foraging in the garden

Many organic gardeners strive for a beautiful garden without using synthetic chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.

The Indian Runner duck has excellent pest control tactics and is a welcome addition to any landscape.

The Indian Runner is well-known for its ability to hunt bugs, snails, slugs, and other pests. Indian Runner ducks have a very good sense of smell that helps them quickly find insects.

Since Runner ducks are smaller and lighter than other duck varieties, they are less likely to accidentally trample or harm plants as they navigate their surroundings.

Unlike chickens, ducks won’t destroy your garden by digging holes in the soil, but there are still certain things to keep in mind when using ducks as pest management.

These ducks love to eat leafy greens and seedlings.

If you have Runners, keep them away from vegetable and fruit plants.

Build a fence or barrier between the ducks and your greens.

Your garden’s needs should dictate the size of your flock. For example, you can protect an acre of your garden or orchard with just five ducks. 

Indian runner duck in a field under the sunlight with a blurry background

Health & Care 

The Runner duck is a relatively robust bird, with an average life span of eight to twelve years.

This type of duck is not known to be prone to any serious disease. In addition, since they can handle extreme temperature, this breed thrives in hot and cold climates.

However, Indian Runners can still contract diseases common to ducks. The easiest approach to avoid sickness is to vaccinate your birds regularly.

Consult your veterinarian to decide which vaccinations are best for your ducks.

Worms pose a significant threat to Indian Runner ducks. These ducks can catch worms from tainted food, water, or dirt. Fortunately, your vet can suggest deworming methods to help your bird thrive.

If you prefer organic treatment, oregano, thyme, and garlic are just a few herbs that have been used for generations to cure and prevent parasitic worms.

However, be aware that these cures may not be as effective as pharmaceutical options.

These birds need a dry place to roost, clean bedding, and a balanced diet to be healthy and lay eggs regularly.

Keep their coop as clean as possible to avoid health problems. 

Ensure they have fresh food and water, and remove any potentially harmful objects from the enclosure.

Portrait of a free-range Indian runner ducks


Indian Runner ducks are in a class of their own when it comes to intelligence. In addition, this breed is typically docile, gentle, and friendly.

These birds are tame with humans, especially their caregivers, although they may be nervous and shy.

Building a close relationship with your ducks requires putting in extra time and energy on your behalf. Spending a lot of time with them when they’re young is the best way to ensure they will trust you.

Keep in mind that if they feel threatened or if they are defending their young, they may become aggressive.

Indian Runners are unusually quiet birds, though hens make more noise than drakes.

Group of indian runner ducks running on the farm

Living Conditions

Outside Area

Despite their ability to adapt to enclosed living spaces, they still require space to move around and forage. 

They love large areas to run and feed on insects. An outside area of 10 to 25 square feet per duck is ideal.

Duck House

Your ducks will also need a duck house where they can sleep and lay their eggs.

A duck house should have about four to six square feet of space per duck. Don’t forget about proper coop ventilation!

Ducks often cluster together on the floor when they sleep. Make sure to lay dry floor bedding so your ducks are comfortable.

Nest Boxes

Ducks also prefer to lay their eggs directly on the ground rather than in nest boxes.

Make sure your ducks have a clean area in their coop set aside for egg-laying.


Indian runner duck coming out from the garden pond

Indian Runners don’t require ponds, but they do enjoy swimming. Despite their unusually-shaped bodies, Indian Runner ducks are actually quite graceful swimmers. 

Additionally, unlike most other ducks, Indian Runners can breed without access to water.

Final Thoughts

Indian Runners are a great duck breed if you want to start a flock.

When it comes to laying eggs, runner ducks are dependable. Despite being lightweight, these ducks are also good for meat.

In addition to helping with pest control for insects and snails, Runner ducks are also easy to raise in a mixed flock.

Finally, Indian Runners are known for their cheerfulness, which means you can enjoy a useful and friendly bird in your garden.