Keeping Hens

A Chatty Guide to Chickens
by Jane Furnival

Keeping hens is easy. This friendly, chatty guide gives you all the everyday information you need to keep your hens happy and safe.

Keeping Hens 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?

£8.99 in paperback

Now available as an Audiobook
Narrated by Jane Furnival, Andy Tribble & Will Tribble

Listen to a free sample and buy the audiobook on Audible.

Jane Furnival shares her decade of experience with a back garden flock. Jane’s chatty guide includes top tips, no-nonsense money-saving ideas and practical suggestions.

The 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.

About the author

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 Furnival was the author of cult bestseller Mr Thrifty’s How to Save Money on Absolutely Everything, and became TV’s Queen of Thrift as presenter of the BBC1 series Smart Spenders, and a regular on GMTV. Jane passed away in 2012, leaving Keeping Hens unpublished. The manuscript has been updated by her family and chicken experts, and the book includes a new foreword and contributions from her son Will.

Every paperback book sold through our online shop, will include a donation towards sponsoring a hen through the British Hen Welfare Trust. We want to sponsor a hen for a year – or hopefully longer!

Find out more about the British Hen Welfare Trust here: 

The beautiful cover and endpaper illustrations were by Jane’s friend Suzy Thomas


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’

I’ve kept chickens for over 10 years and this was a fun and relatable read. The additions from her son Will really cement the chattiness of the text as you can almost hear the conversation between mother and son. This conversational style is so different to many other chicken keeping guides and underlines the fun element of the chicken keeper’s role and the joy that Jane clearly had in her flock.

Jane’s no-nonsense approach really resonated with me as hens are not a tidy pet and they will decimate your garden given the chance. However, the entertainment they provide and the joy to be gained from getting to know their personalities means, like Jane, you will let them away with it. It is almost impossible to keep them purely for eggs and not fall under their spell.

The book concludes with a couple of additional chapters from Jane’s husband Andy which contain a fantastic guide to building your own henhouse. I daren’t show my girls as they would be green with envy.

Overall a great read for prospective and existing chicken keepers, but a fun read for anyone. I dare you to read it and not want to join the chicken keepers’ gang.



This book is beautifully illustrated and makes a great read. You can see why the title states “chatty guide” as this is how Jane comes across throughout. 

This book is informative with top tip sections, pictures and sketches. This is for anyone who has chickens, would like chickens or even thinking about keeping chickens. Jane shares her wealth of information and guides you step by step.

You can clearly see the love she had for her animals and family through this book and with her family’s help, they have brought it to life. 


Keeping Hens is beyond charming, it had me smiling instantly. 

The author has a comical and relaxed writing style which makes it a joy to read. Not only is it full of amazing illustrations and photographs (check out that inside cover artwork), it absolutely oozes character and contains the most heartwarming stories, as well as some great tips from where to get your hens to building a henhouse. It has everything you need to know! 

This would make a great present for any chicken lovers and is definitely one for the collection. 

jessie @eight_laying_ladies

When I received this book, I dived into it and wasn’t disappointed.

An informative book and a must have for anyone working with hens, or for anyone thinking to do so. There is a wealth of information between the covers, sprinkled with a measure of fun.


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.


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.


‘Keeping Hens: A Chatty Guide to Chickens’ is crammed with charm and nostalgia … 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.

The pocket-sized book captures some delightful, practical insights that even the most experienced chicken keeper will enjoy.


Sign up to our newsletter to make sure you hear about new publications, merch releases and other news.

%d bloggers like this: