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Prevention of antibiotics in milk

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

*As information can change over time, If you read this outside of 6 months from the original post date, please confirm with your WCR advisor that the information is still valid and accurate*


To deal with the reality of today and the challenges of tomorrow, Lely sees our most important task as delivering solutions that help our customers excel in sustainable milk and meat production.

Producing high quality milk is the highest priority for you as a farmer and for us as Lely. Updating your Astronaut and/or protocols according to new standards helps you in reaching this goal.


Hot rinse

Sometimes a cow needs to be treated with antibiotics. A growing number of antibiotics for cows are oil based; residues of oil-based antibiotics are more difficult to remove than non-oil-based antibiotics. Therefore, residues may remain in the system. A few years ago, we introduced the option 'hot rinse' for the Lely Astronaut A4 and the Lely Astronaut A5. With the hot rinse option, the system is rinsed with hot/warm water and chemicals, which removes antibiotic residues from the system. This rinse prevents the milk that subsequently flows into the tank from being contaminated with antibiotic milk.

When the ‘hot rinse’ is not switched on, the robot automatically performs a standard local cleaning after milking cows from which the milk has been separated. This default cleaning is a one-time rinse with cold water. The default cleaning is less capable of removing residues of oil-based medicines than a hot rinse.

Using the correct settings for the medicines and activating the hot rinse option is required for a thorough cleansing. This is necessary to make sure that the amount of antibiotic residue remaining in the tank is well below the MRL.

How to set up hot rinse

While creating a treatment plan for your cows, and therefore entering medicines into the medicine library, you will be asked to consider whether that specific medicine requires a ‘hot rinse’. Enabling the ‘hot rinse’ is strongly recommended for oil-based medicines that are administered intramammary. If the option ‘hot rinse’ is switched on, the robot is automatically rinsed with hot/warm water and chemicals after milking cows that have been treated with this medicine.


*Please note, the default setting is ‘No’ in Lely Horizon, as this hot rinse is an extra functionality.


Different Astronaut configurations

In the past, Lely offered a range of configurations regarding valves after the milk jar, including a configuration without a block & bleed. Due to stricter laws and regulations, since 2017, Lely only offers Astronauts with at least two valves and a block & bleed. When the first valve is not functioning properly, the second valve, in combination with the block & bleed, will ensure that milk which is contaminated with active substances (and therefore milk with exceeding MRLs) will not end up in the milk tank.

No action required following configurations, the following configurations are recommended by Lely:

  • 2 valves M4USE and Block and Bleed (one milk line only)

  • 3 valves M4USE, Milk Line 2 and Block & Bleed (Milk line 2 is used for consumable milk)

  • 3 valves Milk Line 2, M4USE and Block & Bleed (Milk line 2 is used for non-consumable milk)


Action required with older robots

In older robots (A4’s before serial RU 0003233875, (Maassluis) and before serial RU 0005003552 (Pella)), the recommended valve configurations are not always in place.

The location of the serial number plate is in the robot control room above the beam of the milk jar, and in the central unit on the front side behind the right door under the bottom hinge.


The risk of an error in positioning of the valves increases due to wear. Therefore, it is advised to have a two- or three-way valve (including block & bleed) installed if this is not the current situation. For more information, contact your Lely Center.


Cold versus lukewarm water

Lukewarm water (approximately 30 °C or 86 °F) is more likely to remove residues from medicines that contain oil-based excipients than cold water. Therefore, we recommend making changes to the hardware in order to be able to rinse the robot with warm water after milking and separation of contaminated milk. This impacts all rinses. Please be aware that the temperature of the water should not exceed 40 ºC or 104 ºF, because the milk proteins will adhere to the surface of parts of the Astronaut and create deposits which are difficult to remove. For more information, contact your Lely Center.


Treatment plans

Additionally, it is recommended to use the treatment plans functionality in Horizon. With this functionality, you can create treatment plans based on different combinations of medicines and diseases. After entering the different medicines that you use on the farm (including withdrawal periods), the medicines can be linked to a disease via a treatment plan. When a cow has a specific disease, applying the concerning treatment plan will help reduce the risk of making mistakes, since you will be working according to established protocols. Treatments that need to be carried out or repeated are grouped together on the health treatment task. Any milk that needs to be separated is done so automatically. Additionally, you will have an overview of all cows that have been treated and can use this information to analyze with your veterinarian.


In summary, ensure that you have a robot with the recommended valve configurations, including block/bleed. Applicable for A2, A3 and A4 before serial number RU 0003233875 (Maassluis) and before serial number RU 0005003552 (Pella). - Updated August 29, 2023

FMS22001-Instruction card hot rinse_en (1)
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