Robotic milking of dairy cows: a review

Luiz Marcos Simões Filho, Marcos Aurelio Lopes, Sergio Corrêa Brito, Giuseppe Rossi, Leonardo Conti, Matteo Barbari


Automatic milking systems (AMS) have aroused worldwide interest recently. The first installation was by the company Lely in a project in the Netherlands (its homeland) in 1992. But nowadays, AMS represents a growing reality due to lobby for labor issues, rising costs, difficulty finding well-trained workers, and/ or difficulty keeping people on farms. This work aimed to present a review of the literature on AMS, beginning with a brief history of the evolution of the technology, showing advantages and limitations of its use, and ultimately giving some suggestions. The understanding of the technical functioning and operational running can help farmers and technicians in decision making on the adoption of the new technology. Besides workforce reduction and labor quality promotion, AMS has potential to improve feed conversion to milk, milk quality (with lower SCC), and cow productivity, as well as providing useful data and parameters for better farm management. Potential limitations include high investment costs, changes in milk composition (solids, free fatty acids), and increased risk of ketosis in cows.


Automation; Dairy cattle; Milking robot; Precision livestock farming.

Full Text:



Ahrne, L., & Bjork, L. (1985). Lipolysis and the distribution of lipase activity in bovine milk in relation to stage of lactation and time of milking. Journal of Dairy Research, 52(1), 55-64. doi: 10.1017/S00220 2990002389X

Bach, A., & Cabrera, V. (2017). Robotic milking: feeding strategies and economic returns. Journal of Dairy Science, 100(9), 7720-7728. doi: 10.3168/jds.2016-11694

Bach, A., Devant, M., Igleasias, C., & Ferrer, A. (2009). Forced traffic in automatic milking systems effectively reduces the need to get cows, but alters eating behavior and does not improve milk yield of dairy cattle. Journal of Dairy Science, 92(3), 1272-1280. doi: 10.3168/jds.2008-1443

Bach, A., Dinarés, M., Devant, M., & Carré, X. (2007). Associations between lameness and production, feeding and milking attendance of Holstein cows milked with an automatic milking system. Journal of Dairy Research, 74(1), 40-46. doi: 10.1017/S0022029906002184

Bar-Peled, U., Maltz, E., Bruckental, I., Kali, Y., Gacitua, H., Lehrer, A. R.,… Tagari, H. (1995). Relationship between frequent milking or suckling in early lactation and milk production of high producing dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 78(12), 2726-2736. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302 (95)76903-X

Bijl, R., Kooistra, S. R., & Hogeveen, H. (2007). The profitability of automatic milking on Dutch dairy farms. Journal of Dairy Science, 90(1), 239-248. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(07)72625-5

Bogucki, M., Sawa, A., & Neia, W. (2014). Effect of changing the cow milking system on daily yield and cytological quality of milk. Acta Scientiarum Polonorum. Zootechnica, 13(4), 17-26. Retrieved from,+M.,+Sawa,+A.,+%26+Neia,+W.+(2014).+Effect+of+changing+the+cow+milking+system+on+daily+yield+and+cytological+quality+of+milk.+Acta+Scientiarum+Polonorum.+Zootechnica,+13(4),+17-26.+ doi:+&hl=pt-BR&as_sdt=0,5

Carregosa, I., & Almeida, O. (2015). O Robot de ordenha e a Lely 20 anos depois… a ordenha automática é realmente voluntária? Retrieved from 20-anos-depois-a-ordenha-automatica-e-realmente-voluntaria/

Dahl, G. E., Wallace, R. L., Shanks, R. D., & Lueking, D. (2004). D. Hot topic: effects of frequent milking in early lactation on milk yield and udder health. Journal of Dairy Science, 87(4), 882-885. doi: 10. 3168/jds.S0022-0302(04)73232-4

De Koning, K. (2010). Automatic milking Common practice on dairy farms. Proceedings of the North American Conference on Robotic Milking, The First North American Conference on Precision Dairy Management. Toronto, Elora, Canada, 2.

De Marchi, M., Penasa, M., & Cassandro, M. (2017). Comparison between automatic and conventional milking systems for milk coagulation properties and fatty acid composition in commercial dairy herds. Italian Journal of Animal Science, 16(3), 363-370. doi: 10.1080/1828051X.2017.1292412

De Vries, T. J., Von Keyserlingk, M. A. G., & Beauchemin, K. A. (2005). Frequency of feed delivery affects the behavior of lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 88(10), 3553-3562. doi: 10.3168/jds. S0022-0302(05)73040-X

Dijkhuizen, A. A., Huirne, R. B. M., Harsh, S. B., & Gardner, R. W. (1997). Economics of robot application. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 17(1), 111-121. doi: 10.1016/S0168-1699(96)01228-8

Dohmen, W., Neijenhuis, F., & Hogeveen, H. (2010). Relationship between udder health and hygiene on farms with an automatic milking system. Journal of Dairy Science, 93(9), 4019-4033. doi: 10.3168/ jds.2009-3028

Drach, U., Halachmi, I., Pnini, T., Izhaki, I., & Degani, A. (2017). Automatic herding reduces labour and increases milking frequency in robotic milking. Biosystems Engineering, 155(2017), 134-141. doi: 10. 1016/j.biosystemseng.2016.12.010

Dzidic, A., Macuhova, J., & Bruckmaier, R. M. (2004). Effects of cleaning duration and water temperature on oxytocin release and milk removal in an automatic milking system. Journal of Dairy Science, 87(12), 4163-4169. doi; 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(04)73559-6

Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (2018). Embrapa Anuário Leite 2018. Indicadores, tendências e oportunidades para quem vive no setor leiteiro. Retrieved from

Endres, M. I., & Salfer, J. A. (2015) An evaluation of automated milking systems in the Midwest United States. Journal Dairy Science, 98(Suppl. 2), 114 (Abstract).

Erdman, R. A., & Varner, M. (1995). Fixed yield responses to increased milking frequency. Journal of Dairy Science, 78(5), 1199-1203. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(95)76738-8

Eslamizad, M., Dehghan-Banadaky, M., Rezayazdi, K., & Moradi-Shahrbabak, M. (2010). Effects of 6 times daily milking during early versus full lactation of Holstein cows on milk production and blood metabolites. Journal of Dairy Science, 93(9), 4054-4061. doi: 10.3168/jds.2010-3104

Ferrazza, R. de A., Lopes, M. A., Bruhn, F. R. P., Moraes, F., & Carvalho, F. de M. (2017). Effect of husbandry system on the technical and economic performance of dairy cattle. Semina: Ciências Agrárias, 38(3), 1561-1574. doi: 10.5433/1679-0359.2017v38n3p1561

The Farm Financial Management Database Finbin (2016). Livestock: dairy summary report. Center for Farm Financial Management. University of Minnesota. Retrieved from https://finbin.umn. edu

Halachmi, I., Ofir, S., & Miron, J. (2005). Comparing two concentrate allowances in an automatic milking system. Animal Science, 80(3), 339-344. doi: 10.1079/ASC40480339

Hale, S. A., Capuco, A. V., & Erdman, R. A. (2003). Milk yield and mammary growth effects due to increased milking frequency during early lactation. Journal of Dairy Science, 86(6), 2061-2071. doi: 10. 3168/jds.S0022-0302(03)73795-3

Hansen, B. G. & Jervell, A. M. (2015). Change Management in Dairy Farming. The International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food, 22(1), 23-40. Retrieved from

Hare, K., De Vries, T. J., Schwartkopf-Genswein, K. S., & Penner, G. B. (2018). Does the location of concentrate provision affect voluntary visits, and milk and milk component yield for cows in an automated milking system? Canadian Journal of Animal Science, 98(2), 399-404. doi: 10.1139/cjas-2017-0123

Harms, J., Wendl, G., & Schon, H. (2002). Influence of cow traffic on milking and animal behaviour in a robotic milking system. First North American Conference on Robotic Milking (Proceedings), Toronto, Canada, 1, 492-495.

Hogeveen, H., Ouweltjes, W., De Koning, C. J. A. M., & Stelwagen. K. (2001a). Milking interval, milk production and milk flow-rate in an automatic milking system. Livestock Production Science, 72(1-2), 157-167. doi: 10.1016/S0301-6226(01)00276-7

Hogeveen, H., Vandervorst, Y., De Koning, C., & Slaghuis, B. (2001b). Concepts and implications of automatic milking. Proceedings of the Symposiumsur Les Bovins Laitiers, Quebec, Canada, 25. Retrieved from

Hyde, J., & Engel, P. (2002). Investing in a robotic milking system: a Monte Carlo simulation analysis. Journal of Dairy Science, 85(9), 2207-2214. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(02)74300-2

Ipema, A. H., & Schuiling, E. (1992). Free fatty acids; influence of milking frequency. Proceedings of the Symposium on Prospects for Automatic Milking, Pudoc Scientific Publishers, 65, 244-252. Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Jacobs, J. A., & Siegford, J. M. (2012a). Invited review: The impact of automatic milking systems on dairy cow management, behavior, health, and welfare. Journal of Dairy Science, 95(5), 2227-2247. doi: 10. 3168/jds.2011-4943

Jacobs, J. A., Ananyeva, K., & Siegford, J. M. (2012b). Dairy cow behavior affects the availability of an automatic milking system. Journal of Dairy Science, 95(4), 2186-2194. doi: 10.3168/jds.2011-4749

John, A. J., Cullen, B. R., Oluboyede, K., Freeman, M. J., Kerrisk, K. L., Garcia, S. C., & Clark, C. E. F. (2019). The effect of pasture quantity temporal variation on milking robot utilization. Journal of Dairy Science, 102(3), 2551-2559. doi: 10.3168/jds.2018-14801

Justesen, P., & Rasmussen, M. D. (2000). Improvements of milk quality by the Danish AMS self monitoring programme. Proceedings of the International Symposium Robotic Milking, Lelystad, The Netherlands.

Ketelaar-de Lauwere, C. C., Hendriks, M. M. W. B., Metz, J. H. M., & Schouten, W. G. P. (1998). Behavior of dairy cows under free or forced cow traffic in a simulated automatic milking system environment. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 56(1), 13-28. doi: 10.1016/S0168-1591(97)00076-2

Ketelaar-de Lauwere, C. C., Hendriks, M. M. W. B., Zondag, J., Ipema, A. H., Metz, J. H. M., & Noordhuizen, J. P. T. M. (2000). Influence of routing treatments on cows’ visits to an automatic milking system, their time budget and other behavior. Acta Agriculture Scandinavica, Section A, Animal Science, 50(3), 174-183. doi: 10.1080/090647000750014304

King, M. T. M., Dancy, K. M., Leblanc, S. J., Pajor, E. A., & De Vries, T. J. (2017a). Deviations in behavior and productivity data before diagnosis of health disorders in cows milked with an automated system. Journal of Dairy Science, 100(10), 8358-8371. doi: 10.3168/jds.2017-12723

King, M. T. M., Leblanc, S. J., & De Vries, T. J. (2017b). Cow-level associations of lameness, behavior, and milk yield of cows milked in automated systems. Journal of Dairy Science, 100(6), 4818-4828. doi: 10. 3168/jds.2016-12281

King, M. T. M., Sparkman, K. J., Leblanc, S. J., & De Vries, T. J. (2018). Milk yield relative to supplement intake and rumination time differs by health status for fresh cows milked with automated systems. Journal of Dairy Science, 101(11), 10168-10176. doi: 10.3168/jds.2018-14671

Klei, L. R., Lynch, J. M., Barbano, D. M., Oltenacu, P. A., Lednor, J., & Bandler, D. K. (1997). Influence of milking three times a day on milk quality. Journal of Dairy Science, 80(3), 427-436. doi: 10.3168/ jds.S0022-0302(97)75954-X

Lopes, M. A., Moraes, F. de, Carvalho, F. M., Peres, A. C. C., Bruhn, F. R. P., & Reis, E. M. B. (2015). The effect of technological levels on profits of milk production systems participating in the “full bucket” program: a multicase study. Semina: Ciências Agrárias, 36(4), 2909-2922. doi: 10.5433/1679-0359 . 2015v36n4p2909

Lopes, M. A., Moraes, F., Carvalho, F. M., Peres, A. A. C., Bruhn, F. R. P., & Reis, E. M. B. (2016). Effect of technical indexes on cost-effectiveness in dairy farms participating in the “Balde Cheio” program at different stages of production. Semina: Ciências Agrárias, 37(6), 4235-4242. doi: 10.5433/1679-0359. 2016v37n6p4235

Lopes, M. A., Nogueira, T. M., & Barbosa, G. L. (2014). Economic viability of the third milking in systems of production using closed-circuit mechanical milking. Revista Ceres, 61(4), 544-551. doi: 10.1590/ 0034-737X201461040014

Lyons, N. A., Kerrisk, K. L., & Garcia, S. C. (2013). Effect of pre-versus postmilking supplementation on traffic and performance of cows milked in a pasture-based automatic milking system. Journal of Dairy Science, 96(7), 4397-4405. doi: 10.3168/jds.2012-6431

Lyons, N. A., Kerrisk, K. L., & Garcia, S. C. (2014). Milking frequency management in pasture-based automatic milking systems: a review. Livestock Science, 159(2014), 102-116. doi: 10.1016/j.livsci. 2013.11.011

Maculan, R., & Lopes, M. A. (2016). Ordenha robotizada de vacas leiteiras: uma revisão. Boletim de Indústria Animal, 73(1), 80-87. doi: 10.17523/bia.v73n1p80

Melin, M., Pettersson, G., Svennersten-Sjaunja, K., & Wiktorsson, H. (2007). The effects of restricted feed access and social rank on feeding behavior, ruminating and intake for cows managed in automated milking systems. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 107(1-2), 13-21. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2006. 09.026

Melin, M., Svennersten-Sjaunja, K., & Wiktorsson, H. (2005). Feeding patterns and performance of cows in controlled cow traffic in automatic milking systems. Journal of Dairy Science, 88(11), 3913-3922. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(05)73077-0

Menajovsky, S. B., Walpole, C. E., De Vries, T. J., Schwatzkopf-Genswein, K. S., Walpole, M. E., & Penner, G. B. (2018). The effect of the forage-to-concentrate ratio of the partial mixed ration and the quantity of concentrate in an automatic milking system for lactating Holstein cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 101(11), 9941-9953. doi: 10.3168/jds.2018-14665

Migliorati, L., Speroni, M., Lolli, S., & Calza, F. (2005). Effect of concentrate feeding on milking frequency and milk yield in an automatic milking system. Italian Journal of Animal Science, 4(Suppl. 2), 221-223. doi: 10.4081/ijas.2005.2s.221

Moraes, F., Lopes, M. A., Carvalho, F. M., Peres, A. A. C., Bruhn, F. R. P., Lima, A. L. R., & Cardoso, M. G. (2018). Effect of the scale of production on the cost-effectiveness of milk production systems belonging to the “Balde Cheio” program. Semina: Ciências Agrárias, 39(3), 1211-1224. doi: 10.5433/ 1679-0359.2018v39n3p1211

Moyes, K. M., Ma, L., McCoy, T. K., & Peters, R. R. (2014). A survey regarding the interest and concern associated with transitioning from conventional to automated (robotic) milking systems for managers of small-to medium-sized dairy farms. The Professional Animal Scientist, 30(4), 418-422. doi: 10.15232/ pas.2014-01327

Nieman, C. C., Steensma, K. M., Rowntree, J. E., Beede, D. K., & Utsumi, S. A. (2015). Differential response to stocking rates and feeding by two genotypes of Holstein-Friesian cows in a pasture-based automatic milking system. Animal, 9(12), 2039-2049. doi: 10.1017/S1751731115001901

Paiva, C. A. V., Pereira, L. G. R., Tomich, T. R., & Possas, F. P. (2015). Sistema de ordenha automático. Cadernos Técnicos de Veterninária e Zootecnia, (79), 41-53. Retrieved from https://www. alice. VetZootSistema.pdf

Poppe, M., Mulder, H. A., Ducro, B. J., & De Jong, G. (2019). Genetic analysis of udder conformation traits derived from automatic milking system recording in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 102(2), 1386-1396. doi: /10.3168/jds.2018-14838

Rodenburg, J. (2011). Designing feeding systems for robotic milking. Proceedings of the Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference, 127-138. Ft. Wayne, Indiana, USA. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate. net/profile/Jack_Rodenburg/publication/265084870_Designing_Feeding_Systems_for_Robotic_Milking/links/563e7b6a08aec6f17ddaaa3d.pdf

Rodenburg, J. (2017). Robotic milking: technology, farm design, and effects on work flow. Journal of Dairy Science, 100(9), 7729-7738. doi: 10.3168/jds.2016-11715

Rotz, C. A., Coiner, C. U., & Soder, K. J. (2003). Automatic milking systems, farm size, and milk production. Journal of Dairy Science, 86(12), 4167-4177. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(03)74032-6

Salfer, J. A., Minegishi, K., Lazarus, W., Berning, E., & Endres, M. I. (2017). Finances and returns for robotic dairies. Journal of Dairy Science, 100(9), 7739-7749. doi: 10.3168/jds.2016-11976

Sannino, M., Faugno, S., Crimaldi, M., Di Francia, A., Ardito, L., Serrapica, F., & Masucci, F. (2018). Effects of an automatic milking system on milk yield and quality of Mediterranean buffaloes. Journal of Dairy Science, 101(9), 8308-8312. doi: 10.3168/jds.2017-14157

Santos, C. C., Almeida, G. A. de, Jr., & Lopes, M. A. (2018). Dairy activity in family farming in Minas Gerais, Brazil: production costs and cost-effectiveness analysis. Semina: Ciências Agrárias, 39(3), 1255-1266. doi: 10.5433/1679-0359.2018v3 9n3p1255

Santos, G., & Lopes, M. A. (2012). Indicador de rentabilidade do centro de custo de produção de leite em sistemas intensivos de produção. Boletim de Indústria Animal, 69(1), 1-11. Retrieved from http://www.

Sapru, A., Barbano, D. M., Yun, J. J., Klei, L. R., Oltenacu, P. A., & Bandler, D. K. (1997). Cheddar cheese: Influence of milking frequency and stage of lactation on composition and yield. Journal of Dairy Science, 80(3), 437-446. doi: 10.3168/jds.s0022-0302(97)75955-1

Shortall, J., Foley, C., Sleator, R. D., & O’Brien, B. (2018a). The effect of dairy cow breed on milk production, cow traffic and milking characteristics in a pasture-based automatic milking system. Livestock Science, 209, 1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.livsci.2018.01.002

Shortall, J., O'Brien, B., Sleator, R. D., & Upton, J. (2018b). Daily and seasonal trends of electricity and water use on pasture-based automatic milking dairy farms. Journal of Dairy Science, 101(2), 1565-1578. doi: 10.3168/jds.2017-13407

Silva, G. R., Lopes, M. A., Lima, A. L., Costa, G. M., Damasceno, F. A., Barros, V. P., & Barbari, M. (2019). Analysis of rentability of milk production systems in compost barn and free stall: a comparative. Semina: Ciências Agrárias, 40(3), 1165-1184. doi: 10.5433/1679-0359.2019v40n3p1165

Sitkowska, B., Piwczynski, D., Aerts, J., & Waskowicz, M. (2015). Changes in milking parameters with robotic milking. Archives Animal Breeding Archiv Tierzucht, 58(1), 137-143. doi: 10.5194/aab-58-137-2015

Spahr, S. L., & Maltz, E. (1997). Herd management for robot milking. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 17(1), 53-62. doi: 10.1016/S0168-1699(96)01225-2

Svennersten-Sjaunja, K. M., & Pettersson, G. (2008). Pros and cons of automatic milking in Europe. Journal of Animal Science, 86(Suppl. 13), 37-46. doi: 10.2527/jas.2007-0527

Tatone, E. H., Duffield, T. F., Leblanc, S. J., De Vries, T. J., & Gordon, J. L. (2017). Investigating the within-herd prevalence and risk factors for ketosis in dairy cattle in Ontario as diagnosed by the test-day concentration of ?-hydroxybutyrate in milk. Journal of Dairy Science, 100(2), 1308-1318. doi: 10.3168/ jds.2016-11453

Thune, R. Ö. (2000). MS Thesis. The Agricultural University of Norway, Institutt for Tekniske Fag Ås, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management, Norway; and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala.

Trembley, M., Hess, J. P., Christenson, B. M., McIntyre, K. K., Smink, B., Van Der Kamp, A. J.,… Dopfer. D. (2016). Factors associated with increased milk production for automatic milking systems. Journal of Dairy Science, 99(5), 3824-3837. doi: 10.3168/jds.2015-10152

Tse, C., Barkema, H. W., De Vries, T. J., Rushen, J., & Pajor, E. A. (2017). Effect of transitioning to automatic milking systems on producers' perceptions of farm management and cow health in the Canadian dairy industry. Journal of Dairy Science, 100(3), 2404-2414. doi: 10.3168/jds.2016-11521

Tse, C., Barkema, H. W., De Vries, T. J., Rushen, J., & Pajor, E. A. (2018a). Impact of automatic milking systems on dairy cattle producers’ reports of milking labour management, milk production and milk quality. Cambridge University Press, 12(12), 2649-2656. doi: 10.1017/S1751731118000654

Tse, C., Barkema, H. W., De Vries, T. J., Rushen, J., Vasseur, E., & Pajor, E. A. (2018b). Producer experience with transitioning to automatic milking: Cow training, challenges, and effect on quality of life. Journal of Dairy Science, 101(10), 9599-9607. doi: 10.3168/jds.2018-14662

Tuckey, S. L., & Stadhouders, J. (1967). Increase in sensitivity of organoleptic detection of lipolysis in cows milk by culturing or direct acidification. Neth. Milk Dairy Journal, 21, 158-162. Retrieved from s2.0-33745431498&origin=inward&txGid=7fa38d aa 3e7912ea0ef9b34929c276bb

Veysset, P., Wallet, P., & Prognard, E. (2001). Automatic milking systems: characterizing the farms equipped with AMS, impact and economic simulations. Conference on Physiological and Technical Aspects of Machine Milking, ICAR Technical Series, 7, 141-150. Retrieved from Documents/technical_series/ICAR-Technical-Series-no-7-Nitra/Veysset.pdf

Villela, S. D. J., Assis, L. P., Lopes, M. A., Silvestre, L. H. A., Santos, R. A., Resende, E. S., & Martins, P. G. M. A. (2017). Economic and productive assessment of an ordinary small-sized dairy enterprise in southeast Brazil: A multi-year study. Journal of Agricultural Science, 9(8), 143-154. doi: 10.5539/jas. v9n8p143

Wagner-Storch, A. M., & Palmer, R. W. (2003). Feeding behavior, milking behavior, and milk yields of cows milked in a parlor versus an automatic milking system. Journal of Dairy Science, 86(4), 1494-1502. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(03)73735-7

Wiking, L., Bjork, L., & Nielsen, J. H. (2003). Influence of feed composition on stability of fat globules during pumping of raw milk. International Dairy Journal, 13(10), 797-803. doi: 10.1016/S0958-6946 (03)00110-9

Wiking, L., Nielsen, J. H., Bavius, A. K., Edvardsson, A., & Svennersten-Sjaunja, K. (2006). Impact of milking frequencies on the level of free fatty aci- ds in the milk, fat globule size, and fatty acid composition. Journal of Dairy Science, 89(3), 1004-1009. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(06)72166-X

Wildridge, A. M., Thomson, P. C., Garcia, S. C., Jongman, E. C., Clark, C. E., & Kerrisk, K. L. (2018). The impact of fetching at night on milking parlour visitation for pasture-based dairy cattle. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 201, 2018, 25-30. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2017.12.014


Semina: Ciênc. Agrár.
Londrina - PR
E-ISSN 1679-0359
DOI: 10.5433/1679-0359
Este obra está licenciado com uma Licença Creative Commons Atribuição-NãoComercial 4.0 Internacional