Lely Astronaut hygiëne - good automatic cleaning cycles

Good hygiene is one of the basic conditions for successful milking. Hygiene is a preventive measure taken to avoid contamination of milk, animals, humans and the system. This article explains which parameters are involved for cleaning the milking robot.

Management, T4C & InHerd, Cow health, Milking


For every cleaning session, the four parameters of the Sinner’s circle have to be taken into account (see figure):

  • Time
  • Action 
  • Chemicals 
  • Temperature 



Lely has chosen a high cleaning temperature, a strong detergent and a suitable flow rate. With these the cleaning time can be reduced and the robot can go back to milking again quickly. We do not have a disinfectant in our detergents, so a temperature above 77 ℃ is extremely important to kill microorganisms in a short cleaning time. Due to heat cleaning, a high-quality product is necessary in order to prevent damage to our equipment. Furthermore, no chlorine, sulphuric or nitric acids are used in order to avoid corrosion. The robot cleaning is based on a flow-through principle, rather than circulation. We create mechanical strength by extraction from the flow rate of the fluids. That is why good water flow is really important. 

In order to avoid any risk, it is necessary to clean with sufficient frequency: every 8 hours. It is worth checking the Lely T4C report ‘Milking – Milkings/Hour’ (see figure), to make sure you clean the robot at ‘quieter’ times during the day.

On this farm cleaning is performed at 22:00, 07:00 and 15:00. These are times when cows are resting or busy eating after feed pushing.

During cleaning, both organic material (such as fat/protein) and inorganic material (scale, lime, milkstone) need to be removed. Organic material provides nourishment for microorganisms which risk spoiling the milk. Inorganic material causes malfunctions in measuring, problems with valves, corrosion and provides shelter for microorganisms. Both sources of dirt require a different cleaning agent. This is why we clean twice a day with Lely Astri LIN (alkaline detergent = high pH) and once a day with Astri CID (Acid detergent = low pH). 

Fat is one of the types of pollution we want to eradicate. However, fat is not removed simply by rinsing with water (think about doing the dishes). Surfactants are able to solve this problem: they make water and fat feel attracted to each other and lift the dirt to keep it flowing.  


In conclusion, cleaning a robot is not that much different to doing the dishes. You need the right temperature, mechanical action, chemicals and time. The Lely cleaning cycle is developed in such a way as to maintain hygiene by cleaning three times a day in an efficient time span. We recommend using the Lely products that are specially designed for robot cleaning.