"Behind the scenes" sums up Jim Baird's career-long contributions to our magazine and the industry. In the 44 years spanning from 1948 to 1992, Baird was the art director and main photographer at Hoard's Dairyman. His photos of herds and dairy operations, taken in 37 different states, appeared on some 700 of the magazine's covers. In addition, Baird created 43 consecutive Christmas-themed December covers that were rendered in the challenging "scratchboard" technique.
Baird notably created the original “Foster Mothers of the Human Race” painting in 1957, depicting the five major dairy breeds at the time. He carefully crafted updated versions in 1963, 1991 and 1993. Baird also completed the original “Linear Scoring Trait” sketches that breathed life into a new era of cattle selection. Many believe those depictions have become the most circulated drawings in the history of dairy cattle breeding.
An avid history buff, Baird developed many of the original exhibits for the National Dairy Shrine Museum. Based on this experience, he authored the popular book Dairy Collectibles. Fittingly, Baird’s original paintings of the seven dairy breeds also welcome visitors upon entering the dairy industry’s “Hall of Fame.”
Baird was one of the last remaining people who had been part of the inaugural National Dairy Shrine meeting at Waterloo, Iowa. At that gathering, he photographed portraits of the very first Guest of Honor, Dean H.H. Kildee. He was one of the few photographers at World Dairy Expo’s founding in 1967.
Jim’s passing unfortunately closes a colorful era for this magazine. Jim teamed up with the late W.D. Knox and the late E.C. Meyer to guide this magazine for a combined 165 years of service. In honor of that collective leadership, we share this classic 1948 photo of these three as young men (left to right, Meyer, Baird and Knox) overlooking the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm. It’s fitting that the image was taken by W.D. Hoard, Jr., the last of the founder’s family to lead this company.