Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

Review: Milking routines and cluster detachment levels in small ruminants

Abstract : Small ruminants not only differ on mammary gland anatomy, milk’s properties and the amount of milk yielded comparable to those of dairy cattle, but also on the milking routine strategies and machine milking settings to maximize daily milk secretion. The udder compartment is proportionally larger in dairy sheep and goats, which requires modifications in the milking machine settings, milking procedures and allows the use of different milking strategies as they better tolerate extension of milking intervals. Depending on the breed, cisternal milk in goats varies from 70% to 90%, whereas in dairy sheep it varies from 50% to 78% of the total gland capacity. This explains why these species are commonly milked without pre-milking teat preparation, while in goats it is applied only in cases of high prevalence of intramammary infection in the herd. Recent French researchers observed that 40% of the goats presented an unbalanced udder as well as unbalanced morphology (21% to 30%) and functional milk flow (around 10% to 20% more) which could induce overmilking. In dairy sheep, selection for higher milk production increases teat angle insertion. Thus, to increase machine milk fraction, it is recommended to use either the ‘Sagi hook’ as an alternative for lifting up the ‘pendulous’ udder during milking or to perform machine stripping. There are three cluster removal strategies for small ruminants: manual, timed and milk flow driven automatic cluster removal (ACR). Automatic cluster removal reduces overmilking, improves teat condition, enables labour saving and provides a consistent milking routine in small ruminants. There are three to five main milk flow profiles in ewes and goats, which result in curves with one or two peaks (or plateau) and different patterns of the milk flow decreasing phase due to the degree of mammary gland imbalance and teat characteristics. When taking into account our current knowledge, ACR recommended take-off settings for goats are: 200 g/min+10 s delay time (DT) for a long decreasing phase or two plateau curves and 500 g/min+5 s DT for a short decreasing phase and one plateau curve. The ACR take-off settings for ewes are: 150 g/min +10 s DT for long decreasing phase and 200 g /min+5 s DT for a short decreasing phase. This review is intended to be useful for scientists and producers seeking basic knowledge of milking routines and cluster detachment settings for parlour performance and milk quality.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Catherine Cliquet <>
Submitted on : Friday, August 30, 2019 - 11:00:09 AM
Last modification on : Friday, February 5, 2021 - 3:54:32 AM

Links full text



A. Dzidic, M. Rovai, J. Poulet, M. Leclerc, P. Marnet. Review: Milking routines and cluster detachment levels in small ruminants. animal, Published by Elsevier (since 2021) / Cambridge University Press (until 2020), 2019, 13 (S1), pp.s86-s93. ⟨10.1017/S1751731118003488⟩. ⟨hal-02274768⟩



Record views