If you own chickens, you may be surprised to see feathers lying around the coop and your hens looking rather shabby. Have they been attacked? What happened? Are they going to make it through the winter?

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Chickens usually molt or lose feathers in the fall to grow new ones in time for winter. Egg production diminishes or stops during molting because hens need a great deal of protein to create new feathers and can’t make eggs and feathers at the same time. Egg production also drops off in the winter because hens need daylight to lay. In the wild, it’s natural for hens to stop laying to rest up and gather resources for next year’s egg and chick production.

The best way to help hens survive the winter is to make sure they are safe from predators, have shelter from the elements and have plenty of water and protein rich food.

For more tips on protecting chickens during winter, click here.