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Isolation of amplifiable genomic DNA is a prerequisite for the genetic assessment of diseases and disease susceptibility in farm animals. Milk somatic cells are a practical, animal friendly and cost-effective source of genomic DNA in milking ruminants. In this study, six different DNA extraction methods were optimized, evaluated and compared for the isolation of DNA from ovine milk samples. Methods I and 2 were direct applications of two commercial kits, Nucleospin (R) Blood and Nucleospin (R) Tissue, respectively. Methods 3 and 4 were based on modified protocols of methods I and 2, respectively, aiming at increasing DNA recovery and integrity, and eliminating PCR inhibitors. Method 5 was a standard Phenol-Chloroform protocol application and method 6 was based on an in-house developed protocol using silica as the affinity matrix. Spectrophotometer, gel electrophoresis and real-time PCR measurements were used as criteria for evaluating quantity and quality of the extracted DNA. Processing time, intensity of labor and cost for each method were also evaluated. Results suggested that methods 1-4 were considered suitable for molecular downstream applications and performed better than methods 5 and 6. Modifications of protocols 3 and 4 increased the quantity and quality of the extracted DNA from ovine milk samples. Method 3 was proved to be highly efficient and robust for large scale use as demonstrated by its successful application to 1000 individual ovine milk and 50 bulk milk samples. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.