Keeping Hens

Keeping Hens

A Chatty Guide to Chickens, by Jane Furnival

Keeping Hens gives you the benefit of a decade of experience looking after chickens in the back garden. It covers all the questions you might have: How many hens to keep? What to feed them? What about a cockerel? Will they get on with the dog or destroy the vegetable patch?

Jane Furnival was, as her son Will says in his foreword, a firework. An independent, driven and exceptionally bright woman, she threw herself into life. Reading this book is like having a chatty conversation with Jane – sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and always entertaining.

Jane’s hilarious and heartwarming stories of life with Winchester the cockerel, Princess the Buff Orpington, and Boo the hen-herding dog will entertain animal lovers and inspire anyone who is thinking about keeping chickens.

For every paperback book sold through our online shop, we will put 40p towards sponsoring a hen through the British Hen Welfare Trust. We want to raise £48 to sponsor a hen for a year – or hopefully longer!

Find out more about the British Hen Welfare Trust here: 

I couldn’t stop reading this amazing book. It was really funny, light-hearted, chatty and informative but most of all you can see how much love and passion Jane had for her animals and family. I learned a lot about chickens from this guide and I actually didn’t realise that hens can be very friendly with how they interact with each other…

I highly recommend to give this book a read even if you have no intention of keeping animals just because it was wholesome and interesting. This Guide is Jane Furnival’s legacy which is truly a great read.

4.5 stars

shelflife book review

A wonderful little book you will find hard to put down.

Light-hearted tales and words of wisdom from the past experiences of Jane – who clearly loved her chickens.

Jane’s stories will have you laughing out loud, whilst giving you some insight to help prepare you to care for your own flock.

If you want some tips for chicken keeping, past and present then this is the book for you. I only wish I had read it sooner.

4 stars


A great compact and informative manual especially useful to those thinking about starting a life in the company of hens.

Nancy Birtwhistle
GBBO winner and author of ‘Clean and Green’

A lovely and lively little book. Full of warmth and love, there is a bit of innocent naivety and the author in no way sets out to be any kind of expert but wants to pass on her very valuable tips and experiences in a very readable way. I already wanted to get a few chickens and Jane Furnival’s guide and her son’s edits have given me a few more things to think about, while not diminishing my enthusiasm.

The foreword written by Jane’s son, Will Tribble, after her death from breast cancer is sensitive and informative, setting the scene nicely for the chapters ahead. This is not a book for the cynical or those seeking a definitive and detailed handbook but if you have ever toyed with the idea of keeping a few “chooks”, I would definitely recommend a read. There are lots of useful facts woven through with a strong sense of ethical guidance and although there are times where there is a bit of folksy anthropomorphism, there is practical detail in every chapter from feeding to care and henhouse construction.

I feel better for reading this informal work and recommend a look wherever you are on the spectrum of keeping hens.


I was thrilled to be sent this book by the lovely folk at Wide Open Sea. 

‘Keeping Hens: A Chatty Guide to Chickens’ is crammed with charm and nostalgia. Jane Furnival’s chicken keeping advice is an insight into raising hens from years gone by. Her chatty, informal style is punctuated by her son’s narrative who updates the reader periodically on rules and regulations that have changed for today’s chicken keeper. Nonetheless, the pocket-sized book captures some delightful, practical insights that even the most experienced chicken keeper will enjoy. The chapter on how to build a chicken coop was especially charming. Finally, the book also includes recommendations by the British Hen Welfare Trust and some handy reference sources at the end too.

If you enjoy reading about chickens, ‘Keeping Hens’ will make a lovely addition to your book collection.


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