Chicken lost feathers

General Cuddles

In the Brooder
Mar 16, 2018
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We’ve had 5 hens and a rooster for 1 year. I thought the hens were molting, but now I'm not sure. The feathers are gone from around each hens' vent, and the feathers on their backs toward their tails do not look good. I've checked for mites and lice and found none. I try to let them free range for 1 hr a day. The chicken run has sand & a large part of the sand became hard due to rain, & I've tried loosening it with a hoe. Could the hard sand cause the feathers to be pulled out of their bottoms?
 

Cyprus

Master of the 'never give up' attitude
Jan 19, 2018
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I don't think the sand is doing it.
The bad feathers on their backs are almost certainly from the rooster. You do not have enough hens for that rooster. You actually have half the recommended number of hens. It should be a ratio of 10 hens to 1 rooster to avoid over breeding.
As for around the vent, that is most likely mites even if you can't see them. Once they start pulling feathers, it means that the hens are trying to self correct the mites problem. At that point the mites would have migrated to other areas of the birds and become harder to find.
They could also be pulling feathers due to a protein deficiency. Feathers are almost all protein. What feed are you giving them, and what is the protein percentage?

I'd still suggest treating for mites.
 

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