Running ducks: Tips for keeping and care

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Run ducks, also known as Indian running ducks or fledglings, are descended from the mallard and are originally from Southeast Asia. In the middle of the 19th century, the first animals were imported to England and from there the continents also conquered the continental European gardens. Runners have a slim body, a long neck and an upright gait. They are lively, attentive and very agile. They run fast and like to swim, but they can not fly. Above all, they need water for food intake and for the care of the plumage, but they also splash around with great pleasure. In the past, ducks were mainly kept for their high laying performance, because on average, a running duck lays up to two hundred eggs a year. Today, however, they are mainly used in the gardens as extremely effective snail hunters.

The attitude of running ducks is not very complicated or elaborate, but the purchase must nevertheless be well considered and prepared. For example, to avoid disputes with neighbors, they should be included and informed in advance. In the garden of family Seggewiß in Raesfeld in the Münsterland live, chatter and hunt for years industrious running ducks. Therefore, Thomas Seggewiß, the keeper of the ducks and master of the house, is now a proven pigeon-hole expert. In the interview he gives us an insight into the coexistence with the animals as well as practical tips around the attitude and care of the running ducks.

Feed runnings

Runners can become very friendly with a little patience. They can then be fed and even caressed by small children by hand

Frequently asked questions about the running ducks attitude

Mr. Seggewiß, what do beginners have to consider above all if they want to keep their current ducks?
The animals are very easy to care for, but of course they want to be taken care of - daily feeding and is therefore important. A small stable is also mandatory, it serves as protection against unwanted guests in the garden. A plot with pond is ideal for the ducks. However, it should be noted that running ducks now like to splash and a too small pond can quickly become a mud hole. A large pond is not so vulnerable. It would be best, however, if the ducks could go in "clean foot". We imagine that the pond edge is designed in such a way that the ducks can only enter through a certain path. This path is laid out with fine gravel. All other banks should be so densely planted or provided with a low fence that the ducks can not pass. We have set up in our garden numerous waterholes in the form of small and larger zinc tubs, which are used by the current ducks like to drink and swim. These must of course be cleaned regularly, so they do not become mud pools.

Running duck pot in the background

Run ducks seek their food mostly themselves. With young ducks caution is appropriate, because in the snail hunt they take over easily. If they are too large, they can even suffocate

Very important: keep away from slug pellets! It turns the strongest duck around! Because the snails eat the grain, the ducks eat the snails, take the poison with it and immediately fall dead. The neighbor should also be asked to do without. Snails travel considerable distances at night. You could therefore go into your own garden and thus to the running ducks. In return, the neighbor will benefit from the eager snail hunters.

Do you have to lock your running ducks in the stable every night?
We are always free to stay in or stay overnight. Although we have already accustomed them to go to the stable in the evening, without a steady accompaniment they do not keep it for long and then prefer to stay outside. Nevertheless, it is essential to provide a stable. This should be a few square meters for several animals and can be safely closed as protection against fox and marten, if the running ducks are in it. With us they walk around freely on the entire property.

Only in the spring we lock them in the evening in the stable. Because at that time, the fox supplies his young and is increasingly hunting. Once he discovers the ducks as food, it is often difficult to keep him away. A high fence - ours is 1.80 meters high - is not an absolute obstacle for him. He can also bully under the fence. The only remedy is the evening closing of the running ducks. However, they will not go into the stable voluntarily - unless they have been trained and regularly accompanied. Even in winters with severe temperatures, long-lasting frosts and snow, the active ducks do not go into the barn at night until about 15 degrees Celsius.

Running duck in the duck house

Runners are most like outdoors. Unless you train them for the evening walk into the stable

Is a high fence obligatory?
The area where the ducks move should be fenced so they know where they belong and can not crush small plantlets. The fence serves as already mentioned also for protection against animal hunters. About 80 centimeters high enough to hold back the ducks, as they can not or only very limited fly. We always say: "Our runis do not know that they can fly and get from a half meter of heights fear, but if there is a fence, they do not even try."
Make a running noise noise?
As with many other creatures, the ladies of the running ducks are the louder ones. By loud chatter they often draw attention to themselves. The gentlemen, on the other hand, have a very quiet body and only whisper. If your bedroom is nearby, the chattering on Sunday morning can already bother you. If the ducks are fed, but they are immediately calm again.

Running ducks in threes

Run ducks are closely related to the domestic mallards. They are available in different colors - these two drakes wear the same plumage as the male Mallards

How many ducks should be kept at least and how many do you need to keep the garden snail-free?
Running ducks are absolutely no loners. They are herd animals and always in the group on the way, preferably all day long. In the mating season, the drakes pursue the ducks very intrusive. In order not to overload the ducks, it is advisable to keep more ducks than drakes. Then the group structure is the most peaceful. A pure male troupe usually does not cause any problems. But if only one lady is present, there is trouble. Basically, running ducks should not be kept alone, even if the garden should be quite small. In a double pack, they simply feel better and a couple can easily keep a normal home garden to about 1,000 square meters snail-free. In our garden with an area of ​​about 5,000 square meters, we hold about ten to twelve running ducks.

How can you feed your running ducks?
When it's not too hot in summer and you take a nap in the shade, running ducks are always on the go, bobbing constantly on the ground for grains and small animals. They turn each leaf around in search of vermin. Their favorite dishes are nudibranchs - and these are best in large quantities. Also snail eggs, which are found in the earth in the fall, belong to it. So they also reduce the slugs of the following year considerably. Running ducks always eat some earth and small stones while eating. This is good for her digestion. Nevertheless, you should also provide them with separate feed - but not more than actually eaten. Leftover food is always a magnet for unwanted guests in the garden.
In spring and in summer, when the supply of insects and snails in the garden is quite large, little has to be fed. In winter, however, the need for additional feed increases accordingly. As a supplementary feed, normal grain feed for chickens is very well suited. It contains all the important nutrients. But also some leftovers are consumed by those in pursuit. For example, pasta, rice and potatoes are always eaten quickly. However, salted and spicy foods should be avoided.

Running duck on garden path

On their tour through the garden, runners keep the beds snail-free. However, tender plantlets need to be protected from trampling

Do runny peas also eat plants? Do vegetable and ornamental plants need special protection?
For salad and small Gemüsepflänzchen a fence is useful for protection. Because they taste not only us humans, but also the running ducks very well. In general, the running ducks sting only very few plants. For example, our ducks eat petunias, small banana trees and some aquatic plants. If possible, we will raise the plants slightly so that the hungry beaks can no longer reach them. Otherwise, the ducks walk through all perennial borders and also over a wooded wall on the busy road. Feeding damage does not arise there. Only in early spring, when the perennials are just coming out of the ground, the animals should stay in the enclosure for one to two weeks. Otherwise, when they are snail-hunting in the flowerbeds, they are a bit flat here and there. The shrubs are only a little bigger and stronger, the ducks can waddle freely through the area again.

What about the offspring?
Run ducks have a very high laying performance and build their nests in sheltered places in the garden or in the stable. A clutch often contains more than 20 eggs. During the incubation period of about 28 days, the ducks leave their nest for eating and bathing once or twice a day. During this time you can quickly check how big the clutch is. After a few days you can also determine how high the fertilization rate is. For this, one must examine the eggs with a bright lamp and pay attention to fine dark blood veins, which are visible after a few days incubation.For this, a piece of cardboard is very well suited, into which an oval hole of about three by five centimeters is cut. Place the egg in the hole and light it from below with a strong flashlight. When the duck returns, the egg should be back in the nest.

Running ducks with chicks

Ducks with chicks are called "hunchback". Indian running ducks can lay between 150 and 200 eggs a year. However, the chicks always need a drake

It often happens that a duck disappears. It does not have to be a sign of a fox nearby. Often one has overlooked the Nestbau and the duck breeds in a sheltered place. After a few days, the duck should reappear for feeding. It is very important that the dogs and their hatched chicks are separated from the monkeys. Because the male animals often see a competition in the offspring and can quickly become dangerous for the little ones. If two humps get chicks at the same time, it is possible that the hunchbacks attack and kill the stranger chicks as well. Therefore, you should also separate them better.

Further interesting facts about running ducks

• Running ducks are often used to train herding dogs. Owners who do not have their own flock of sheep, but want to practice the behavior of hats, do so very often with a small group of pigeons. The ducks always stay together and can be driven with just a few movements in the desired direction.
• The common aversion to duck eggs stems from the earlier belief that they are more susceptible to salmonella than chicken eggs. Since the animals like to bathe in the mud, the eggs are often a bit dirty. But the assumption is wrong, because salmonella is unfortunately everywhere.
• Runners lay an egg almost every day - more than most chicken breeds. Under natural conditions they stop production in the winter, like chickens do. As soon as the days get longer and brighter, they start working again. Duck eggs are usually slightly larger than chicken eggs and have a harder and thicker shell.
• In the past, duck eggs were sometimes considered a delicacy. They have a very fresh taste, but not everyone likes. They are very good for pancakes and pastries. The intense color of the yolk gives the dough a great yellowish color and special taste.
• Runners leave hardly any dirt in the garden. The droppings are very liquid and are usually absorbed directly from the ground. What is left is washed away by the next rain. You just should not get used to feeding the running ducks on the terrace. Because then they do their business there very quickly.
• You can even rent running ducks. But who believes that his garden with a few rented for a few weeks run ducks long-term snail-free, is wrong! For this one must enter a longer relationship with the lovable animals and grant them permanently food and Logis. Only then can an ecological balance emerge.

You can visit the magnificent garden and, of course, the cheerful running ducks of family Seggewiß, by prior arrangement. Or you come to the next open garden day. Further information and pictures can be found on the homepage of family Seggewiß.

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