This study tested whether separating regrouping from the time of fresh feed delivery mitigated the effects of regrouping on cow behavior and milk production. Cows (n = 26) were individually introduced into a stable group of 11 animals/pen fed twice daily. Animals were randomly assigned to early regrouping (at 0300 h, approximately 10.5 h after fresh feed delivery and 3.5 h before the next fresh feed delivery) and late regrouping (between 0630 and 0730 h, coinciding with access to fresh feed). For 3 d, starting immediately after regrouping, video recordings continuously monitored feeding and perching (i.e., standing with the 2 front feet in the lying stall) behavior and displacements at the feed bunk. Data loggers were used to quantify lying time and the number of standing bouts; milk production was automatically recorded at each milking. Daily feeding and lying times and the number of standing bouts per day did not differ between treatments or experimental days. Daily perching time and the number of displacements at the feed bunk did not differ between treatments but decreased with experimental day. Average milk production on d 2 and 3 after regrouping (30.6 ± 1.5 kg/d) was lower than during the 3 d before regrouping (32.3 ± 1.5 kg/d), but we observed no effect of treatment on this decline. We conclude that regrouping at a time not associated with fresh feed delivery does not mitigate the negative effects of regrouping.
- social stress