I have 12 hens that are about six months old and are just starting to lay. Six of the birds have either no tail feathers or just a couple. I've not really observed pecking but i don't spend a lot of time with them. I've looked and don't see any mites (can you actually see them) and the birds don't seem to be scratching. I've separated the six but it's too early to tell if it is helping. I've used the blue kote stuff. They are on a diet of layer crumble and get occasional veggies. Once or twice a day they get scratch. Since I bought them in September as day olds they have overwintered in my garage with not much access to the outside. These hens are smaller than the others, do you think it's just pecking order or could there be another problem? Should i up protein? If i dust with seven, won't that affect the eggs (will we be able to eat them)? I hate to use poison. Any ideas out there? Thanks for your help.