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, 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.