In case you are new to chicken raising or have always wondered about what is wrong with you chicken - I took some before and after pictures!
First up is Dusk - A Barnevelder of about two years. Note the tight smooth feathers, the tail and glossiness of her plumage... (These were taken about 6 months ago.)
And now for comparison - her moulting photos....
No, this is not another chicken...! Its the same one in the middle of her moult. As you can see they lose a lot of feathers (one of the signs after the eggs stop being laid) and they lose their tails.
This is Dusk with her sister who is still laying for comparison. Dusk is at the back and Autumn is at the front. I find they are quite flighty and uneasy when they are moulting too.
This is Misty. She is a Lavender Leghorn and is a wonderful layer of eggs! (as most Leghorns are). Note her upright, bright red comb, tail and nice yellow legs. These photos are also about six months ago.
This is Snowflake. She is a Speckled or Painted Sussex. She's only a couple of years old and has just about finished her moult. Can you see the downy bumfluff feathers just starting to grow back? You can see the shafts of the feather sticking up through the skin and just starting to push the actual feather out.
On the other hand... Solstice hasn't gone into a moult yet, but she is broody (darnit all, won't somebody lay me an egg or two?) She is a Brahma (and not a show quality one as she has a comb) and just on a year old now. She has been a little bit broody on and off for the last few months. See how her neck feathers puff up and her tail expands when other chooks approach her? She clucks indignantly incessantly and generally is grumpy and obnoxious.
She is trying to make herself bigger and more frightening as mothers do when they are protecting their babies. She weighs about 3kgs and can be quite a handful when she's not happy! Broody hens spend a lot of time trying to get back to the nest. Moulting hens just do normal things except they look terrible and seem a little nervous all the time.
In both cases some extra tonics and good food will always help them get what they need to replenish themselves. Moulting is about giving their bodies a rest and most chickens will do it once a year.
Here is a more in-depth post about moulting I wrote for those who would like to follow up on the moulting process.
What happens when a chicken moults?
If you have photos of moulting chicken feel free to link us to them!