Molt verb \ˈmōlt\ : to shed hair, feathers, shell, horns, or an outer layer periodically.
Chickens molt yearly, usually starting in very late summer or early fall. I’ve read that it doesn’t happen to them until they are about 18 months old, however I’m noticing it in several of our new (8-month-old) girls this year. My older girls (all about 18 months) are now molting for the first time.
During this time egg productions slows (or more likely stops) for the duration of the molt. The molt may last from 2-3 months. Or 1-2 months. Maybe. Or perhaps 2-4 months. Or could last until natural extended daylight returns in spring. (Ugh. Please tell me no!) It depends on who you ask. Which I suppose makes sense because the molts will vary wildly and may not even be noticed for some time.
If I look at our flock closely, I can tell a few of them have lost some feathers. On quick glance, or to most people, they might just look a bit messy. (Who am I kidding? As the Ladyfriend as prone to reminding me, no one thinks about our chickens quite as much as I do. They actually probably look normal to everyone else.) Anyway, my point is that unless your chicken is a fast molter you might not notice it right away.
However, some seem to lose feathers in big chunks and look pretty rough.
Molt-erific aren’t they?