Running ducks - informative tips on buying, keeping and caring for them

Running ducks - informative tips on buying, keeping and caring for them

the essentials in brief

  • Running ducks cost between € 5 and € 15, the price varies depending on the age and sex of the animal
  • Runner ducks should always be purchased as a pair or group
  • Running ducks love to walk, but they still need a pond
  • Running ducks should spend the night in the stable at night to be protected from martens

Buying ducks - breeders, prices, buying tips

Runner ducks are friendly, lovable and lovable. Please pay as much attention to the purchase as you do to the purchase of a dog, cat or horse. The funny water birds will bring you and your family a lot of joy if you buy healthy, lively animals from the experienced breeder. Be sure to ignore questionable offers on free classified ads portals. Meaningful sources for the contact details for trustworthy providers are, for example, the special association of running duck breeders in Germany ( or the Association of German Rassegeflügelzüchter eV ( For pure-bred, ringed ducks from competent breeding, the following prices are charged on average:

  • Drake (annual): 15 EUR
  • Duck (annual): EUR 20
  • Chick: 5 EUR

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The best time to buy ducks is in late summer, ideally in August. From September the duck pairs form for the next year and then stay together. In this phase the waterfowl have molted and the young are fully developed. Furthermore, the courtship instinct rests, so that no violent conflicts disturb the acclimatization in the garden.


Note important purchase criteria

Buy running ducks only as a pair or a small group, for example 1 drake and 3 to 4 ducks (women always outnumber them). Take a critical look at the breeding area, because good keeping conditions are fundamental for healthy animals. Do not buy chicks that will be separated from the mother. Find out the exact age of the ducks. Art-bred chicks should be at least 6 to 8 weeks old. Adult running ducks are best suited as new family members at 1 year of age. Get information about the last deworming and note what the animals have been fed so far. Ideally, you should buy a small supply of food from the breeder with you for the first week of your feathered pupils in their new home.

Please take a not too large, softly padded transport container with you, which guarantees your new family members a good air supply. For a longer journey back with ducks, please plan breaks to offer the animals water. Make an appointment with the breeder so that he has time for a careful selection and answering important questions.


Renting ducks - no-go for animal lovers

It sounds too good to be true. Rent ducks, chase them through the garden and the voracious snail plague is history. Of course, it is overlooked that the alert water birds have a sensitive disposition and require a lot of care and attention. Basic prerequisites for species-appropriate husbandry include a marten-proof fenced property with a pond and stable. Daily additional feeding is essential. Furthermore, running ducks not only eat snails, but also do not disdain beneficial insects. A short-term use of the snail hunters, who chatter, shakes the ecological balance in the enclosure. If rental ducks leave the property, the insatiable slimes will be back on site within a week.

Runner ducks - breed characteristics at a glance


Running ducks are descended from the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos). In the middle of the 19th century, the first specimens from Southeast Asia found their way to Europe, where the slender, elegant animals first populated the gardens of England. From the 20th century, the ducks with upright gait conquered continental European parks and green spaces. Today, the generic term penguins includes a total of three breeds that are useful as ducks in the garden. The following table lists essential breed characteristics:

racefurther designationSize (head to tail tip)WeightColoring plain dressLaying output per year
Indian runner ducksBottle duck50 to 76 cm2.5 to 3 kg10 colors150 to 200 eggs
Japanese runner ducksJapanese duck70 to 75 cm3.5 to 4 kglight brown-gray speckled80 to 90 eggs
Chinese runner ducksPeking duck65 to 75 cm3 to 4.5 kgWhite60 to 80 eggs

Common to all duck races is a tightly upright, almost vertical posture. The proportions of purebred ducks are composed of a third of the neck and two thirds of the body. The plumage is firmly attached to the cylindrical body. The assignment as a penguin type is primarily based on these central breed characteristics. This is easy to understand because the association with the flightless sea birds is closer than the comparison with domestic domestic ducks.

Indian runner ducks - the most beautiful colors


As the table above demonstrates, the collective term penguins is used to describe various breeds of ducks that walk upright. If ducks are out and about in gardens and parks, they are mostly Indian ducks. The penguin breed is not only more elegant, livelier and more agile than the Chinese and Japanese runner ducks. With a total of 10 recognized colors, Indian runner ducks delight as a picturesque feast for the eyes. We present some of the most beautiful plumage colors in the following:

Trout colored

The drake has a green neck and head, decorated with a neck ring that is not closed. A wine-red chest and silver-gray wings catch the eye. The dark back is lined with silver-gray at the rump. Light pearl gray marks the legs and flanks. On the tail, a dark lock of drake brags as an important clue for determining sex. The bill color is willow green. The duck is characterized by a light brown basic color with a silver factor. Sharply defined spots can be seen on the back, stomach and rump. Covers of the wings and back are lined with brown. You can't miss an orange beak.


The drake comes with a silvery creamy white base color. The shoulder, neck, chest and neckline are lined with silver-white. The belly and flank plumage also shines in silver white. The rump stands out brown-black, of course with dark drake curls as a distinguishing feature to the Indian runner duck ladies. The bill color is willow green to gray. The female beauties have chosen a yellowish-white basic color with a brown-dotted back, neck, neckline and upper chest. A blue mirror peeks out from the wings. The beak color is gray-green.

Are you flirting with subtle, single-colored Indian runner ducks? Then the popular breed has pure white specimens with a lemon-yellow beak. The thoroughbred racers are therefore elegant in pure black with an emerald green shimmer and a matching dark olive green beak.


A herb spiral protects basil, sage and parsley from the large mountain pines of runner ducks. Grow young vegetables, tempting lettuce and step-sensitive flowers in raised beds, because direct contact with the eager snail hunters will not go well for most small plants.

Interesting facts about ducks - question and answer quiz


The very first glance at pictures and videos arouses curiosity for further information about the cute ducks. To reduce the cheerful fellows to their function as natural snail control does not do justice to their lovable, peace-loving disposition. Please make yourself a little familiar with important characteristics of runner ducks in advance before considering keeping them in the garden. We invite you to a quiz to get to know each other, which provides you with useful information as a question and answer game in a fast run:

Can ducks fly?No
Can ducks swim?Yes, a swimming pond is mandatory
Are runners loners?No, but sociable herd animals
How old do ducks get?Life expectancy: 12-15 years
What do runners eat?Chicken feed, unseasoned leftovers, fresh greens, snails, beetles
How long do runner ducks breed?Breeding season: 20-30 days
How much do hatching eggs weigh?Minimum weight: 55-65 grams
How long do chicks take to hatch?Hatching time: up to 24 hours
Can you raise duck chicks yourself?Yes, but it is very time-consuming
How can you recognize a drake?Drake curl on the tail, low voice

Gender determination is a frequent headache for Laufi friends. The drake curl in the form of a curved feather at the end of the tail reveals the gender only at an advanced age. In order to differentiate between young animals drake and duck, a close examination of the cloaca (common body outlet for digestive and sexual organs) should provide information. Well-founded statements can primarily be made by veterinarians, biologists and breeders. As a layman, we recommend paying attention to the noise level. Ducks give out loud chattering, whereas only a faint Räb-Räb can be heard from the drake.

Keeping ducks in a species-appropriate manner - this is how it works


The perfect, species-appropriate keeping of ducks rests on four pillars: fenced property, pond or water points, lockable stable and pesticide-free garden. All four cornerstones for a carefree coexistence with the lovable fellows in plumage are discussed in more detail below:

Plot size and fence tips

Runner ducks walk well. What water birds lack in flight ability they make up for with nimble legs. An allotment garden in the format of a towel is far too small for a mini-occupation of two ducks. Recognized Laufi experts agree that each duck needs an enclosure of around 500 square meters. This means a minimum size of 1,000 square meters if you keep a pair of ducks in the garden. Your feathered snail hunters really appreciate a varied planting of grasses, shrubs and trees, which offer great hiding places.

A fence is mandatory if you plan to share your garden life with ducks for a long time. The fencing aims to keep the ducks inside and enemies out. In normal, quiet everyday life, ducks get a visible fear of heights from 30 centimeters of ground clearance. Panic makes the birds forget their fear of flying and flutter at a height of over 1 meter. Hungry martens, foxes or raccoons lurk outside to attack the ducks, their chicks or their eggs. The best protection for the duck enclosure is a dense fence 1.80 to 2 meters high. Keeping runner ducks without a fence is not recommended.

Duck pond - ideas for small and large water worlds


Only a pond turns the garden into a duck paradise. The waterfowl love to swim and splash around for life. At the same time, a pond provides vital drinking water to get slimy snails and dry grain feed down. Runner ducks are not picky. If necessary, it can also be a children's paddling pool or a large tub. Bottle ducks are welcome in all varieties of water in the garden.

A stream with a filter system is a practical and decorative solution for the ideal water world for your ducks. Since the water is constantly in motion, it stays clean longer than in a standing pond or biotope. You can save yourself the bank planting, however, because creek bungees, swamp forget-me-nots and other plants are mercilessly trampled down or simply plastered.

Barn size and setup guidelines

A stable as marten-proof night quarters is mandatory if you keep ducks in the garden. The recommended fence alone is not enough to ward off martens and foxes in the dark. In spring in particular, the predators search for food for their offspring at night and early in the morning and go to work rigorously. A duck pen should be a few square meters in size. For a couple, the benchmark is the size of a dog house for a German Shepherd or Saint Bernard. Dry bedding, ideally straw, serves as the interior. The door, which is around 50 centimeters high, should definitely be lockable, because ducks do not like to stay in the barn voluntarily.

Pesticide-free garden - just no slug pellets

Schneckenkorn (€ 16.78 at Amazon *) brings every duck down reliably. With a poisoned slug, the ducks ingest the slug pellets, which they kill within a few minutes. It is easy to forego fighting snails with slug pellets, because your ducks master this task with flying colors. Furthermore, chemical fungicides, herbicides and other pesticides are taboo in the garden when bottle ducks frolic in them. A poison-free natural garden benefits not only your snail hunters in their plumage, but also the entire ecological balance and the health of your family.

Care tips for running ducks

Appropriate care rounds off the competent keeping of runner ducks in the garden. Additional food brings variety to the summer menu, which mainly consists of snails. When snails are rare in winter and only little green flourishes, daily supplementary feeding comes into focus. Water plays a key role in keeping and caring for happy running ducks all year round. We have listed important care tips for you below:

  • Food : Chicken feed, oatmeal, unseasoned leftovers, lettuce leaves, shrimp, rice (no avocados)
  • Drinking water : set up water points in several places in the garden and refresh them daily
  • Digestive aids : small stones or river sand, especially important in winter when the ground is frozen
  • Prevent diseases : dewormer twice a year (proven deworming agent Concurat)
  • Winter care : Insulate the barn for running ducks in winter with straw and heat them - 10 degrees Celsius outside temperature

Additional precautions should be taken when runners are raising chicks. A duck wants to be left alone while it is breeding. Check the nest only when the mother-to-be is briefly out looking for food, defecating or looking after her feathers. After the end of the roughly 28-day breeding season, chicks and their hen must live separately from the drake. A duck drake sees chicks as competition and often attacks its own offspring. A mobile chicken fence is a good protection for the kindergarten enclosure.

Chick food - tips for the perfect menu

The food of adult running ducks is too coarse for the offspring. On the first day of their life, chicks are supplied with nutrients through the yolk sac. From the second day onwards, special chick food from specialist retailers is served on the table. For a change there are mashed bananas or canned peas and carrots.

Starting with the second week of life, tasty side dishes for chick grain as basic feed are very popular with youngsters. A mixture of wheat bran, cornmeal, oatmeal and crushed nettles with dandelions triggers enthusiasm. The ingredients are mixed with water to form a pulp, which is given a special pep twice a week with a raw chicken egg. At 6 weeks old, chicks like to eat poultry kernels with crushed oats. The little ones get fresh green fodder and juicy snails from the garden themselves.

Eating duck eggs - a delicacy for connoisseurs


Duck ladies are true laying miracles. An egg a day is routine for a hard-working duck. Under the natural conditions of keeping in the garden, egg production is only stopped for some time in winter. As soon as spring is heralded with longer daylight, everything “starts” again.

Compared to chicken eggs, duck eggs are slightly larger and have a thicker and harder shell. Under the white-green skin there is an intense yellow yolk with a delicate taste. Gourmets appreciate duck eggs as delicious scrambled eggs or tasty fried eggs. Thanks to the deep yellow yolks, duck eggs give homemade pancakes and cakes an appetizing color. As a breakfast egg, of course, chicken eggs still have the edge.

Duck diseases - recognize and act correctly

It is characteristic of running ducks and other poultry that diseases can only be recognized at an advanced stage. Presumably this is a protective function of mother nature. Visibly sick ducks are easy prey for predators and are mercilessly bullied in the herd. Affected Laufis are therefore very careful not to attract attention. Therefore, watch the animals carefully in order to be active in the event of these signs of disease:

  • apathetic, listless sitting around
  • intense, sick smell in the stable
  • noticeable feces
  • severe weight loss
  • Shortness of breath, nasal flow
  • Balance disorders, symptoms of paralysis
  • elevated temperature (normal temperature is 41 ° Celsius)

Self-medication only makes sense if you can clearly diagnose the cause of the disease. So far, more than 20 duck diseases are known, some of which express themselves with similar symptoms. Instead of administering medication on suspicion of a sick pensioner, please consult an experienced veterinarian. You can find contact details of veterinarians with experience in waterfowl, for example, at or

frequently asked Questions

We plan to keep ducks in the garden. Should we buy drakes or female runner ducks?

For the correct answer, please include your environment. If you live in close proximity to a residential area, we recommend keeping a purely drake group with at least three animals. Behavioral disorders are common in same-sex couples. Male runner ducks can only make themselves noticeable very quietly, even in panic situations. If your garden is out of earshot of your neighbors, nothing stands in the way of a mixed duck colony. It is important to note that the women are in the majority. Otherwise there is a risk that overzealous attempts at coping with drakes will overwhelm the ducks, which can cause tragedy.

How old do ducks get?

Under species-appropriate framework conditions on a fox- and marten-safe fenced property, ducks can live between 12 and 15 years. The Methuselah among Indian river ducks reached an impressive 20 years of age.

What do runners eat?

Snails and beetles are high on the duck menu. This of course does not cover the nutritional requirements. Compound feed for chickens has proven to be a good choice for supplementary feeding in summer and for nutrition in winter with few snails. Unseasoned leftovers trigger great enthusiasm in the duck people, such as jacket potatoes, rice, noodles or a few crunchy lettuce leaves. Ducks also eat a bowl of cat food with pleasure. A container with water should not be missing at the feeding place.

Do ducks and cats get along?


Cats are not a threat to ducks. Indeed, there are numerous amusing stories to be read about loving relationships between running ducks and cats on the internet. Bottle ducks also maintain good neighbors with dogs, unless they are trained hunting dogs. Foxes, martens and hawks pose a serious threat to Laufis of all ages.

How many ducks against snails do you need for a 5,000 square meter garden?

A duck pair is enough to keep an area of ​​1,000 square meters free of snails. For a large garden of 5,000 square meters, we recommend a colony with 10 to 12 ducks. If loud chatter is acceptable, it can only be ducks. However, you will then be denied the enjoyment of fresh duck eggs. If you value quiet in the garden, it should be a purely male group. If you opt for a mixed force against snails, please make sure that ducks are in the majority.

I want my ducks to raise chicks. How do I know which eggs are fertilized?

Wait until the duck leaves the nest for a short time. By examining each egg with a bright lamp, you can determine the fertilization rate. Internal blood vessels form in the fertilized duck egg after a short incubation period. Take a cardboard lid and cut a 3 x 5 cm hole in it. Put an egg inside and illuminate it from below. The test must be completed before the mother duck returns to the nest. A family member should stand guard outside to report the duck's arrival in good time.


The keeping of ducks in Germany is associated with various legal provisions. Before you buy ducks, please consult the responsible public order or veterinary office regarding the registration requirements. In addition, find out from the building authority whether the construction of a stable or enclosure in your region requires approval. A clarifying discussion with the neighbors is urgently advised, because you will lose out in the legal dispute over loud ducks that plunder neighboring gardens.