The Indian Runner as an Egg Duck Breed
The India Runner duck is the
best egg layer of all
and if given proper care and good feed
will compare favorably with hens in egg producing ability.
The Runner is the "Leghorn" of the duck breeds for eggs
and a veritable egg-machine when properly handled. It is first of all
an "egg" breed, and those who are aiming at
breeding for laid eggs should keep it pure. It cannot be styled a
"table" duck when compared with other heavier breeds.
Egg laying ducks are the easiest of ducks to house, feed, rear and
Runner ducks have been known to lay eggs while still just less
than four and a half months old. It is not common to them to lay quite
so early as this. But they do lay earlier than hens,
comparatively speaking; they do lay more persistently and they do lay
better in the autumn. On
average Indian Runners
lay 180 - 200 eggs a year
When we add these items to the fact that Indian Runners lay an egg
exactly one-half larger than the standard size of hens' eggs
the English type lay white, translucent eggs, it is easy to see that
their value as producers of market eggs is abnormally high.
The best thing about Indian Runners is that this duck breed
eats less in the way of grain and pellet supplement than big table
ducks. Of course, they should be given calcium and
especially during the extensive laying season.
The best egg-producers are those with good carriage, fine heads and
necks, good sharp eyes, with their legs well set apart and with very
alert appearance. The best layers are easily detected by experienced
hands, coarse birds of all descriptions being avoided. The
soda-water bottle wants deepening a bit at the base of the neck, and I
prefer a bird not so upright.
has to be careful of where you get your Indian runner ducks from as
they vary a lot in their capabilities. Trout runners, for example,
which are smaller, do not lay as well as a well-bred White or Blue
Runner, however, they do have a longer lifespan. It is definitely the
strain that counts, and carefully chosen crosses of two unrelated
strains of Runner can produce a very good laying bird; inbred types are
If you take a midway point between the Buff Orpington Duck
standard bred White
you get the ideal. I think, contrary to most
believe, that a rather heavy type of Runner makes the best layer,
reason of course, and not losing the Runner characteristics.
Indian Runner is undoubtedly one of the finest laying duck breeds,
being a "land" breed its main business is to forage and find most of
its food in the natural season.
They are happy to forage for food, and
although can survive on less water, if there is a pond, they will use
Because they forage keeping this duck breed
in feeding and profits on yield go hand in hand.
The Runner lays a white-shelled egg, although in a few strains the
green egg is noticed, but this character is not true. The white egg
should be bred for. As regards color of plumage, any combination is
Some history to this
egg-laying duck breed
. The Indian Runner duck
was first brought from India by a sea
captain who, when ashore, had been attracted by their peculiar
carriage, active habits, egg-producing powers and foraging merits. In
the 1840s he brought a few specimens home with him, and
presented them to farmer friends in Cumberland, England.
Indian Runners immediately got a good name locally for their egg-laying
and the progeny spread over the Scottish border and into Westmoreland.
Not till 1890 were the Indian Runners taken up strongly by the fancier,
who then realized that
the specimens were in many cases losing their original penguin-like
appearance, due to the crossing of pure Runner drakes with ordinary
The Indian Runner Duck Club
The Indian Runner Duck Club later made its appearance, with the object
of reviving the true type and preserving the purity and character of
the breed. A
standard was drawn up, and the Club insisted upon a due recognition of
same by judges. Breeders had as their ideal in what we will term
standard-bred " specimens the elevated bottle-like body, balanced in
such a manner as to give perfect freedom of movement, and the legs
pitched far back, allowing the quick running gait which means foraging
They insisted on the
Runner being symmetrically formed and properly
balanced with the legs pitched back so that the duck was compelled to
the body to such an extent as to bring neck and body into an almost
direct line, the profile being suggestive of the outline of an
old-fashioned soda-water bottle set at an angle of 50 to 90 degrees.
The Indian Runner Duck Club catered for
the standard-bred specimen, a comparatively small
tightly-feathered duck with very erect carriage, active habits, fine
head, wedge-shaped bill, full and quick bright eye, thin and slender
neck and lengthy rounded body, with legs set far back.
It travels with a straight-out run, and does not waddle or
roll like ordinary ducks. When startled an almost perpendicular pose or
attitude is assumed.
The Indian Runner Duck
The ideal Indian Runner
is a duck with all parts in graceful harmony
and showing the most perfect symmetry, proportion and
carriage. The head is fine and somewhat flattened over the
skull, with eye full, bright, clear, alert and high up in the skull.
The bill is strong and deep at the base, where it joins and fits almost
insensibly into the skull, and comes as nearly as possible
straight down to
the tip, giving it a wedge-shaped appearance. The neck is very fine,
thin and slender to where it begins to form the expansion towards the
base of the neck. This expansion fits almost insensibly into the upper
part of the body, so as to appear almost part of it. Head and neck are
carried high and slightly forward and
must not be curved or swan-like.
The body (which includes
the lower portion of the neck expansion) is
long and narrow, of nearly uniform thickness, very tightly feathered,
with wings closely packed and in all approximately twice the length of
the neck to the top of head.
When standing erect stern appears
comparatively short and curves round to the tail, which is close and
neat and carried nearly in a line with the
body, but in some excellent specimens it is slightly elevated or turned
upwards, and a fullness of the lower stern is frequent in the most
prolific layers. When on the alert the duck carries neck and body
almost in a line at an angle of from 50 to 70 degrees to the horizon.
The legs are placed much farther back than in other breeds. The shanks
are comparatively short with small supple feet and strong thighs to
enable the duck to balance properly and maintain an upright position
when on the run.
Colors of the Indian Runner Duck
The oldest and best established varieties are whole-colored fawns,
pure whites, and fawn-and-whites, but any color or combination is
permissible. From the earliest times it has been a distinctive
character of the Indian Runner's plumage that the colored body
laced in ducks and penciled in the drakes.
The feathers of the duck have dark brownish centers with margins or
fringe of a somewhat lighter shade which overlap and give the surface
shade. The body feathers of the drake are minutely penciled or peppered
with darker lines terminating in a fringe or margin of more pronounced
tint which imparts an even shade of surface color. At the front of the
breast towards the throat the color often deepens a little in drakes.
Head, rump and upper part of the tail
are of a dark bronze color, often showing a faint greenish luster.
In both sexes the body color lightens as season advances and continues
to fade until the moult sets in. In fawn-and-whites even clean-cut
markings are preferred.
The bills of both sexes vary in color from a greenish yellow to green
and almost black-green, according to the season, and the legs and feet
are deep yellow to dark
tan. The whites have bright orange legs and feet and orange-yellow
So, if you are looking for the best laying duck breed, the Indian
Runner is your duck, and would be a rather amusing addition to your
farms and homesteads.
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