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Reminiscent of bowling pins with beaks and webbed feet, Indian runner ducks make easy-care pets that can provide pest and weed control around the home as well as eggs and meat on the kitchen table. The ducks will pretty much take care of themselves if you have predator-proof acreage for them to roam, but you should provide supplemental feed to round out their diet.
Feed your baby Indian runner ducklings starter food designed for ducks or game birds -- don't feed medicated chick starter, as ducklings react with more sensitivity than other fowl and anyway have natural immunity to most poultry-yard diseases. Make sure ducklings have water available next to their feed, as they need to sip water after each mouthful to avoid choking. Switch ducks to grower ration after age 2 weeks and mix half-and-half with wheat after 5 weeks. Switch to adult food at 24 to 26 weeks.
Basic Adult Diet
Indian runner ducks fare best when they have ample room to forage for themselves. They will make hearty meals of insects, snails, algae, weeds and other forage with little need for supplementation during warm weather. Provide a mixture of cracked corn and wheat under a three-sided shelter for them to partake of as needed. Ducks who free-range develop bright orange beaks, shiny feathers and lay eggs with firm orange yolks.
Indian runner ducks lay eggs prolifically -- up to 200 per year -- but they don't usually have adequate mothering skills to incubate eggs or raise young. Natural pigments in plant materials that the foraging ducks eat give yolks bright orange coloring, desirable among gourmands. Supplement your ducks' diet with laying ration to make sure they are getting enough calcium to produce strong shells. Or finely grind shells from eggs used for cooking and mix them with their ration.
In winter, both plants and insects are scarcer. You'll need to supplement your ducks' diet with grain and fresh greens. Wheat provides more protein than corn, making it an ideal winter food. Your Indian runners will enjoy picking it from under the water if you scatter it on your pond and let it sink to the bottom in a shallow area. You can also put it in a food pan filled with water so the ducks can access it but rodents won't be able to. During harsh weather, you can leave a bowl of corn under your three-sided shelter to give your ducks extra calories to battle the cold.