Under the Henfluence: The World of Chickens and the People Who Love Them

By Tove Danovich

‘Share[s] the life-enhancing joys of the humble hen’ Sunday Times

‘Clocks our obsession with chicken-keeping … Brilliant’ New York Magazine

An immersive blend of chicken-keeping memoir and animal welfare reporting by a journalist who accidentally became obsessed with her flock.

Since first domesticating the chicken thousands of years ago, humans have become exceptionally adept at raising them for food. Yet most people rarely interact with chickens or know much about them. In Under the Henfluence, Tove Danovich explores the lives of these quirky, mysterious birds who stole her heart the moment her first box of chicks arrived at the post office.

From a hatchery in Iowa to a chicken show in Ohio to a rooster rescue in Minnesota, Danovich interviews the people breeding, training, healing and, most importantly, adoring chickens. With more than 60 billion chickens living on industrial farms around the world, they’re easy to dismiss as just another dinner ingredient. Yet Danovich’s reporting reveals the hidden cleverness, quiet sweetness and irresistible personalities of these birds, as well as the complex human–chicken relationship that has evolved over centuries. This glimpse into the lives of backyard chickens doesn’t just help us to understand chickens better – it also casts light back on ourselves and what we’ve ignored throughout the explosive growth of industrial agriculture. Woven with delightful and sometimes heartbreaking anecdotes from Danovich’s own henhouse, Under the Henfluence proves that chickens are so much more than what they bring to the table.

Format: Hardback
Release Date: 30 Mar 2023
Pages: 240
ISBN: 978-0-00-850586-8
Tove Danovich is a freelance journalist who has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Ringer, Backyard Poultry Magazine and many others. She is a former Midwesterner, turned New Yorker, who now lives in Portland, Oregon. She keeps eight chickens in her suburban yard and hopes to add more. Their Instagram @BestLittleHenhouse with over 32,000 followers, is more popular than hers. You can find her on Twitter @TKDano.

”'Share[s] the life-enhancing joys of the humble hen” - Sunday Times

”'A call to arms, but in an entertainingly written, well-paced way. It certainly makes you think.” - Kate Green, Country Life

”'Under the Henfluence clocks our obsession with chicken-keeping. Highbrow / Brilliant.” - New York Magazine

”'Not intended to be a how-to for amateur poultry breeders, Danovich’s work does offer broad and compelling insight into how raising chickens transforms and enriches human lives.” - Booklist

”'The author writes with warmth and candour, sharing her obvious love for her feathered pets … Informative and engaging” - Bookmunch

”'A heartfelt account of raising pet hens … [that] endears and provides an intimate look at animals more often thought of as food than friends … Anyone who’s mulled the possibility of setting up a backyard coop will find this the next best thing.” - Publisher’s Weekly

”'A delightful peep into an old business, refreshed for a new generation” - Aimee Nezhukumatathil, New York Times bestselling author of World of Wonders

”'A moving tribute to the world’s most numerous birds. It will change the way you look at chickens.” - Hal Herzog, author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why it’s so hard to think straight about animals

”'Danovich’s book is a gem” - Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals

”'A realistic and immersive look into our relationship with those beings in our care … Under the Henfluence makes it impossible for the reader not to think of - and possibly love - the idea of chickens in a new way.” - Mira Ptacin, Modern Farmer

”'The company of hens could be the best cure for depression … Their jostling energy and distinct personalities bring joy … Interweaving reflection and reportage, Danovich leads us down [these and other] bizarre byways” - Spectator