I know this question has been asked, but the answers are confusing because it really does seem to matter on your set up. This is my first post on BYC even though I have been lurking for a very long time. I live on 2 1/2 acres, just east of Denver, Colorado (think plains..not mountains). We have been talking about getting chickens for over a year now, but ducks often come up in the conversation as well and I am just not sure which way to go.
So the area I want to keep them in is near our front gate. on the north side of our house. We have a farm fence running on what would be the north side of the coop/pen area. On the other side of that fence lives my neighbor's beagles. They have an electric fence on their side as well as the farm fence so I don't think they would ever attempt getting out, but I am not sure how that might be an issue. We have a dog too, but our dog so easily trains with everything and is a people pleaser in general. I am not worried about teaching her to be a chicken/duck helper rather than an attacker. Okay...so there's that.
Next, the area is about 100X 20 feet at one end and sort of curves and tapers off to a point at the other. There are two large pine trees and lots of pine needles are in that space as well as a large pile of gravel that we moved out of some flower beds when we moved in here. It is probably 2 ft high x 4 ft wide x 15 ft long (I say this because I am thinking that this might work for a duck water area). It seems like I might be less likely to have a mess with either of them due to lots of pine needles and gravel, but I don't know. I do plan on free ranging as much as I can (we have coyotes, foxes, hawks, king snakes, and owls in the area regularly...as well as deer and about plethora of rabbits and field mice). We have a grass lawn up near the house and then a field in the back plus I have a garden with tomatoes, vegetables, strawberries, and fruit trees and a 3 bin compost area on the south side of the house. I have a long strip on the east side of our house, right against the fence that is about 10 feet wide and 100 feet long that seems like a good area to let them run if total free ranging doesn't work well plus another sort of grassy island with 6 more large trees right in front of our house. It is an oval shape that is maybe 75 feet long and 30 feet at its widest point.
Weather here can be very snowy in the winter at times, but it is rarely super cold. The average low temp for the coldest day of the year is 19 degrees. The average daily high during the coldest time of year is 51 degrees. I am looking at the data and it says it rarely gets over 94 here in the summer, which I believe, but I think because of the elevation, it feels crazy hot sometimes in the summer (and I grew up in Phoenix, AZ, which actually is crazy hot). I would say the biggest weather issue I have had to deal with here is the insane wind that happens sometimes. 70 mph winds are not uncommon. Originally I planned for a coop more out in the field, but I think that the coop needs better protection from the wind, so I thought this other space will work better.
If we do ducks, I was leaning towards runners. If we do chickens, we were leaning towards a buff orphington and one other type. We want 3 birds altogether to start with.
Knowing all this...suggestions? My kids are 7 and 10 assuming the kid issue is also a factor.