Please bear with me, this is long but I want to provide as much info as possible in hopes of getting some sage wisdom from more experienced chicken owners. I hesitated whether to post this here or under the 'emergencies/injury/disease forum', so if it belongs there please let me know. I'm clearly a novice, but my tiny flock are like pets and I want to take the best possible care of them. We started with 5 birds in their second laying season (inherited from a sick friend.) Sadly, something grabbed 3/5 of the gals about a month ago, up to that point they had been free range. It was tragic! RIP Henrietta, Ethel, and Ginger I found a very nice woman in my area who said she was moving and needed to sell the majority of her flock (selling 54.) She advertised them as pullets and young laying hens. I went to pick them up yesterday and got one Barred Rock and one Ameracauna. She indicated that the BR had started laying a few months ago (2-3 can't recall...) and her Ameracaunas started last month. I had my toddler with me and did not inspect the birds (I'll never make that mistake again!) Once I got them home and in their coop , I noticed that the BR had large bald patches! They are not noticeable when she is standing still but when she spreads her wings all you see is chicken skin! I got nervous that the birds had some sort parasite so I decided to quarantine them until I was sure what was going on. I bought some DE (food grade) and dusted both my main run and the temp coop. Later that day when I moved the birds into their quarantine coop, I tried to get a better look at them and realized that they both have bare stomachs and the skin looks very dry. I've spent a ridiculous amount of time reading about lice, mites, molting, broody hens, etc... and still don't know what's going on. This morning my husband helped me inspect them and I can't see any mites or lice. I've read that with mice, the base of their feathers will look like Qtips and my birds don't look like that. I even contacted the woman who sold me the birds and asked if they might have a parasite. She said they shouldn't have any and went on to say that with the recent humid weather most of the birds who like to stay in the nest for lengthy periods of time before and after laying their eggs will literally sweat off there feathers on the underside, and as the weather cools they will grow back. Near the rectum they will lose there feathers as their eggs get larger & larger. She suggested DE as a precaution whenever introducing new birds... but ultimately said she would be happy to refund my money or give me a different bird. She seems like such a sweet lady. If you're still reading- THANK YOU! Here are my questions: Do chickens really sweat feathers off in the heat? I haven't read this anywhere else... I live in Maine. I'm thinking if this were true, chickens in the south would be hairless! Do they really lose feathers around their vent as they grow? Haven't read this either.... Or could birds this young already be going broody? Or could they be growing back feathers from their last juvenile molt? The BR also seem to have a problem on her back near her tail feathers. The feathers haven't been pulled out but rather bitten off. I'm thinking this May have been pecking issues from the large flock she was in or from stress? Comparing the two sets of birds, my older gals look MUCH healthier. Their combs are a deeper shade of red, they're bigger, their coats are more sleek, etc. Initially, I attributed this to age, but I suppose it's possible that she could have misled me and these birds are not even youngsters but older? Should I dust the birds to be on the safe side and if so, do I use DE or something else? Suffice it to say I am a bit overwhelmed and starting to regret the additions to my flock.