Vivero Remodel into Chicken Paddocks

The time finally feels right for me to raise chickens for eggs. When we first arrived in Costa Rica, part of the rent for the house we stayed at in Ciudad Colon included fresh eggs. I don’t think I had ever consumed fresh eggs prior to this because these tasted wonderful and were unlike any I recall ever eating. I quizzed our landlord about how she raised the chickens and visited her coop. From that moment I was set on having my own chickens so that I could enjoy the incredible nutrients from fresh eggs. We currently buy eggs from Mario’s mother-in-law. I went inside her chicken house once. It is a big structure, completely made out of metal roofing laminates that holds at least 100 chickens. She raises the chickens primarily for meat. Once they reach the determined age they are sold to whoever slaughters them. She is in the chicken business and follows practices to maximize profit. I was saddened to see that all of the beaks of her chickens had been cut in order to prevent them from pecking each other. The chickens also never see daylight. I read the amount of sunlight the chickens receive affects the nutrients in the eggs. While I like to support Mario’s family, the eggs I buy from them were not super fresh or flavorful and very similar to ones purchased at the local grocery store. I knew I could do better.

I have spent a considerable amount of time researching everything about chickens on the internet. My goal is to have healthy, happy chickens that have access to fresh pasture, plants and bugs. During my research I found this article about raising chickens by Paul Wheaton. This helped me learn a lot about what is best for chickens and what setup will require the least amount of work from me. I decided to remodel the vivero (the totally enclosed area where I grow our vegetables) and turn it into a secure place that includes the coop and four areas sectioned off by fences. The idea is to let the chickens out, during the day, in one area for about ten days and then they are moved into the next area for ten days. Before the chickens move in I will plant plants for them to eat and allow grasses and weeds to grow.
Months ago I realized that the vegetables growing in the vivero weren’t doing as well as ones I planted out in the open. While it was really nice not having too many bugs in there, I think the sunlight was filtered too much and it got too hot during the day. I did try some experiments in the vivero with polyculture and I really think that is the way to go. I directly sowed seeds from about ten different types of vegetables into the garden bed. The seeds were planted in a random order, basically just tossed into the area. The germination rate was much higher than when I sowed seeds in typical rows. I will continue to try vegetable gardening in this way in the new beds, once they are created in a different area.

I’m very excited about this project. These are some of the ideas I had about how I wanted to spend my time when we moved onto the property and now they are beginning to become a reality.