I"m sure this is the most common question in this section -- but we are total newbies and have an 8 month old Dorking who quit laying about a month ago. I hope it is 'only' because of the decrease in daylight, but there a few other things to consider which I'll describe in case someone wants to dive in here...
We have the Dorking and her flockmate is a Wyandotte. About a month and a half ago, we had a hawk near-miss which most likely traumatized these two. The Wyandotte was injured a little, but it was superficial thankfully. Both had been laying just fine at this point although we couldn't (still can't) get them to lay in their nest box which is in their usual coop and at the point of the hawk attack, the weather was nice and they were laying in a few predictable places in the yard.
After this, we couldn't find eggs anywhere. We thought it was the stress of the attack and hoped it would pass. About a week and a half later, we found ALL THE EGGS together in a corner of an abandoned/unfinished coop. Clearly both birds had been laying as they were two colors.
I removed the pile of eggs and placed a new nest box in the unfinished coop nearby to try to attract them into it since at least this location was sheltered and clean.
Thankfully, the wyandotte liked the new box and she has continued to lay. However, the Dorking has quit seemingly for good. Not only this, but her personality has shifted too. She is no longer sweet and docile, but now more prepared to attack if given a chance, and has attacked several times with children whom we had previously never worried about as she is usually so sweet with everyone! My daughter is now terrified of her.
Related side note: is it normal for layers to "hunch" down when you approach them, spreading their wings?They both began doing this almost the day they began laying. I assumed it was a protective instinct. The Dorking no longer does this, but will now swivel around preparing to defend rather than even running away. She is now larger than the wyandotte who, when there were 3 pullets (we lost one), was the boss. I'm not sure who is boss now, but Dorking is much larger and more aggressive and not laying. Does she think she is a rooster? Is she sick? We haven't changed food or anything during this time. I thought I saw issues with the feathers around her face, but I think that I was just seeing new feather growth as she seems to be still maturing. Otherwise, she looks beautiful and healthy.
Another sidenote: Around this same time shortly after the hawk and while they were secreting eggs away unbeknowst to us, we did have friends visiting and the children approached the chickens too forcefully and got pecked. I dont' know who did the pecking, but wondered if it was the Dorking if the mixture of the hawk and children could have permanently traumatized her??
Yet another sidenote: The Wyandotte was pretty aggressive when she was younger towards the other two and sometimes to humans. I read that calcium can cause aggression and -- so with supplementation, she made an almost overnight change into a sweet and submissive personality. So I wonder if the Dorking has a deficiency of some kind? How on earth would I know? The oyster shels are still available to her...
Tons of questions I know... I haven't had any luck finding folks to ask around here in person. Thanks for any help at all.