It is important that those who plan to breed Indian runner ducks understand how the ducklings should be raised and cared for.
Runner Duck breeding is a very popular business model around the world. Breeders choose to raise ducks for a number of reasons. With Indian runner ducks, the main reasons for raising them are often a promising and lucrative egg business or the production of magnificent show birds for exhibitors.
Breeding Indian Runner Duck
Indian runner ducks will start laying eggs when they are about 7 months old. Each duck will lay between 150 and 200 eggs each year. It is a challenge to collect these eggs and hatch them successfully. There are two ways to hatch the eggs:
- Natural incubation
- Artificial incubation
When a female Runner duck sits on the eggs to hatch them, the process is known as brooding. A hen that is ready to hatch will show obvious signs. She will stop laying eggs and make a very noticeable squawk, often refusing to move.
To increase the hatchability of the eggs, you need to make sure that there are no more than 15 eggs in each nest. Once the hen begins to hatch, she will provide the eggs with the proper amount of moisture and heat necessary for the eggs to hatch.
When you have an incubated egg you should take care of the following:
- Food and water should be kept close
- Feeding should be modified to suit the nutritional requirements of breeding ducks
- Ducks should be checked regularly for parasites and also infections
After the first week of incubation, you should check the fertility of these eggs. Just hold them up against any bright light. If there is an obvious dark shape in the egg, you can be sure that it is fertile. If it is clear, the egg is infertile.
If the eggs are collected regularly, the runner ducks will not become broody. In such cases, artificial incubation is the only option. Commercial incubators are available to help you hatch the eggs. These incubators vary in capacity and most of the time rely on electricity, gas, or kerosene to provide heat.
The temperature of the device can be regulated by a thermostat that comes with the incubator. The Indian Runner Duck will take about 28 days to hatch when kept in an incubator.
Once the eggs are removed from storage, they must be kept at room temperature for at least 6 hours before transferring to the incubator. The temperature should be set to 37.5 degrees Celsius and should be lowered by 0.2 degrees for hatchers.
The humidity must also be adequate. If it is excessive, the eggs will not dry enough to hatch. If it is less, drying occurs too quickly. You can use humidity trays to control humidity, ideally set to 70% relative humidity.
The eggs in the incubator must be turned in every day to ensure that the contents do not stick to the shell. Eggs are usually turned at a 90-degree angle. This process can be automated using turning equipment that will turn the eggs every hour.
You can check the fertilization of the eggs by shining bright light on them. An important process in artificial incubation is fumigation. A mixture of formalin and potassium permanganate can be used to kill harmful bacteria, especially salmonella.
Remove the hatch from the incubator
Once the eggs are close to the hatching date, you need to set up an incubator with the required heat source. The hatchability of ducks is usually around 70%. The hatch should be transferred to the brooder almost as soon as the process is complete.
Brooders are necessary even when opting for natural incubation. When the eggs are about to hatch, you will see the hen sit on them for shorter periods of time.
Once the ducklings have hatched, grower pellets should be fed. These pellets contain the nutrients and minerals necessary for the ducklings to develop properly. Once the ducklings are about five weeks old, wheat can be introduced with grit. The grit usually consists of oyster shells and helps provide the forage necessary to break down the food as it is digested.
Can you avoid artificial incubation?
Although there are no recorded problems with artificial incubation, there are some breeders who prefer natural incubation. If you have noticed that your runner ducks have stopped brooding, you can reintroduce them to this concept using model eggs and even rocks.
There are some chicken breeds that can also be replaced to naturally hatch the eggs. When choosing another breeder for your duck eggs, be sure to check the brooding and mothering history of the bird.
Natural or selective breeding?
Natural breeding is where ducks are allowed to mate with their own species to produce offspring. Over several decades, the characteristics and features that threaten the survival of a species are modified or eliminated.
According to Charles Darwin, only those breeds that are best suited to survive will continue the lineage. This process is called natural selection. Natural farming is a great option for breeders who are only interested in keeping ducks for their eggs, meat, or for ornamental purposes.
Artificial breeding is the process of using only those birds with desirable characteristics for mating. This procedure is ideal for people who like to breed for showing and exhibition. There are several interesting breeds that are the result of mating Peking ducks with Indian runner ducks.
The color mutations in the plumage of Indian runner ducks are a perfect example of selective breeding. The only downside to selective breeding is the possibility of serious mutations leading to underdeveloped or even too weak to survive, sometimes.
Questions to ask yourself before breeding Runner ducks
Breeding Indian runner ducks is not an easy task. You must be prepared to invest a lot of time and energy to transform this into a lucrative business, there are several questions you should ask yourself.
- What is the purpose of breeding runner ducks?
- Do I have enough space to provide the ducks with an environment that allows them to thrive in a healthy way?
- Do I have the funds to invest in the ducks and their care?
- Do I have enough help to cope with the demands of duck farming?
- Will I be able to keep ducks away from obvious dangers like predators?
- Do my neighbors agree with this?
- What are the licenses I need to have ducks and raise them legally?
- Does my breeding program require any certification?
Sexual Behavior In Indian Runner Ducks
One of the most amazing things about the Indian Runner Ducks is the transformation of their behavior when they mate. Runner Ducks are generally very calm and even fun to watch. However, while they mate, their behavior is extremely aggressive. Of all the birds, Indian runner ducks are considered to have the most violent sexual behavior.
Females generally like to choose a suitable mating partner. Once she is convinced that she has found the right match, she will show her consent by shaking her head and making loud and distinct squawks. Male ducks also court females by sticking out their chests and trotting majestically before them.
The only problem in a group of runner ducks is that a female will be attacked by more than one male. One possible explanation for this fact is that ducks are among the only three species of birds in the world that actually have a penis.
This penis of the duck is long and can be twice the size of the duck’s entire body. The penis will dry out and wither once the mating season is over. As a result, the ducks will be aggressive as they only have the ability to mate in one season.
Female ducks quickly resist unwanted copulation. The most common behavior among female ducks is the voluntary closure of the vagina to prevent penetration. However, even if forced insemination occurs, the vagina is designed in such a way that it stores unwanted sperm and removes them later. Thus, females have the final say on which duck will sire the next set of eggs.
Drakes (male ducks) don’t usually stay to help the females raise the ducklings. They may be present only until the eggs hatch. However, there are cases in which the seasonal ties are repeated with the same couple in the following year; this means that the drake will return with the same pair in the next mating season. This is a rare occurrence and is called ‘philopatric‘.
Sex change in ducks
Can Runner ducks change gender?
Yes, most of the runner duck owners have observed quite often that their female duck undergoes a gender change. You will notice the appearance of a tail curl on ducks and also the appearance of drake coloration. Most of the time when a sex change occurs the ducks will also stop laying eggs, however, the primary sex organs never develop.
Several specialists in animal behavior relate this drastic change to the energetic and aggressive sex in which the drakes participate. Other scientists and waterfowl experts believe that the change occurs due to hormonal imbalances.