Under the Henfluence
Inside the World of Backyard Chickens and the People Who Love Them
Published by: Agate Publishing
- Published: March 2023
- Published: January 2024
An immersive blend of chicken-keeping memoir and culture 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, culture reporter 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 26 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.
Chickens at Home
Chapter One: Make Way for Chickens
Chapter Two: United States Poultry Service
Chapter Three: The Lost Chick Call
Chapter Four: A Cure for Chickens
Chickens on Display
Chapter Five: There’s No Business Like Poultry Show Business
Chapter Six: 4-H is for the Birds
Chapter Seven: Cheep Therapy
Chapter Eight: How to Train Your Chicken
Chickens in the Wild
Chapter Nine: Winter Eggs
Chapter Ten: Chicks Gone Wild
Chapter Eleven: What to Do with All the Roos?
Chapter Twelve: The Chicken Who Didn’t Know How to Be a Chicken
Epilogue: Coming Home to Roost
“A heartfelt account of raising pet hens. . . Anyone who’s mulled the possibility of setting up a backyard coop will find this the next best thing.” —Publishers Weekly
“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
“Under the Henfluence clocks our obsession with chicken-keeping. Highbrow / Brilliant.” —New York Magazine
“Share[s] the life-enhancing joys of the humble hen.” —The Sunday Times
“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
“I enjoyed every single page.” —Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., Psychology Today
“A call to arms, but in an entertainingly written, well-paced way. It certainly makes you think.” —Kate Green, Country Life