Book Review: Minnie Rose Lovgreen’s Recipe for Raising Chickens

Review by Joanne Jackson Johnson

Cover: Recipe for Raising Chickens.  Illustration by Elizabeth Hutchison Zwick.The Third Edition of Recipe for Raising Chickens appeared in 2009, almost twenty five years after the First and Second Editions.   It has reappeared, likely, because of a renewed interest in a more humane way of raising food animals and birds. These days, many small scale and urban farmers interested in raising chickens focus, as Minnie Rose Lovgreen does in this book, on “keeping them happy.”

Minnie Rose and her husband Leo Lovgreen had a small and successful dairy on Bainbridge Island, Washington, and she raised chickens for sixty years. She never mentions large scale dairies, and, from this book, we don’t know how she felt about large scale egg production when it came into being after WWII.

Recipe for Raising Chickens makes us feel that we are right there with the chickens as they go through their cycles of laying, setting on and hatching eggs and caring for their chicks until they are able to go out on their own. She has observed them closely and internalized those observations in order to maintain their health and welfare and their production of eggs.   She has included a vocabulary of chicken sounds with translation.

Her recommendations cover all aspects of chicken care, from insuring that broody hens have successful hatches, to feeding, housing, testing for laying, insect pests, molting and dealing with aggressive roosters. But it is not truly a recipe, as it quantifies very little — there is only one mention of space requirements for flocks, no formulas for feed rations.

The book is a collaboration — it was dictated by Lovgreen to her friend Nancy Rekow, who hand-lettered it and the illustrations are by Elizabeth Hutchison Zwick.

I have raised certified organic meat chickens for the past five years and am in the process of renovating an old chicken house to start my own flock of egg layers. In its day, this old chicken house was deluxe, and I wonder whether the original owner read Minnie Rose Lovgreen’s book in the 1970’s.

Joanne Jackson Johnson and Andy Townsend raise organic meat chickens, pigs, hay and vegetables on M’Clintock Valley Farm south of Whitehorse, Yukon.

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This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada.

This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada.

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