Once again, we asked 16 of our editors and graphic designers to weigh in on their top selections for the many different magazine covers published between Oct. 19, 2015, and Oct. 1, 2016.

Our staff’s top pick, receiving 10 votes, was from our first issue of 2016. The unique photo, captured by freelance writer and photographer Sherry Bunting, featured a row of cows at the feedbunk. Bunting took the photo on a particularly chilly day, so the cows’ breath was visible in the photo.

“It shows the conditions many farmers are subjected to during the harsh winter months,” said Fredric Ridenour, production editor. “And I love the focal point being the cow in the center.”

“I really like this photo,” said Ray Merritt, who heads up the company’s marketing, design and video efforts. “I love the perspective and capturing the cows’ breath on a cold winter day.”

Second place, with eight votes, went to the eye-catching illustration featured on the Aug. 7, 2016 issue. The cover was created by graphic designer Sarah Johnston and accompanied an in-depth article about the Chinese dairy industry written by freelance writer Karena Elliott.


“So there might be some prejudice here, since I illustrated this cover, but what can I say?” Johnston said. “It has a special place in my heart. Creating a Chinese-inspired cover image for an American magazine was both a challenge and an exciting project to take on.

It was fun to be able to try implementing Asian brush and watercolor styles, and I hope I was able to capture that. It was also nice to break away from usual dairy cow images.”

“This is an incredible, intricate design,” said Wisconsin-based editor Peggy Coffeen. “Not only is it fitting for the subject, but it showcases the talent of our design team.”

favorite covers

The third most popular cover among the staff, with seven votes, was the June Dairy Month cover. Fredric Ridenour captured his son, Dash, with an ice cream cone and a “mischievous grin” (in Fredric’s own words) for the cover of the June 1, 2016 issue.

“Is there anything more ‘June Dairy Month-ish’ than children and ice cream? Ya just gotta love it,” said publisher Alan Leavitt.

“Nothing brings a smile to the face more than the happiness of a child,” agrees Corey Lewis, graphic designer. “It really goes well with that particular issue theme as well.”

Corey Lewis is responsible for the honorable mention cover. He designed the illustration featured on the Sept. 12, 2016 issue, which received five votes from the staff.

“While I don’t know if we could at this moment find a dairyman using all of the technology featured in this illustration from the cab of a tractor, I don’t think it’s beyond realistic to think that future isn’t that far away,” managing editor Walt Cooley said.

“I love the clean simplified look that Corey gave this illustration,” said Kevin Brown, production department team lead and graphic designer. “It brings us as the viewer immediately into the future of mobile technology and farming technology. The forms of the drawing are stylized but drawn with a sensitivity that doesn’t make them cartoony.

The composition and the expression of the man on the tablet draw me in, and I want to know what he is saying, emphasizing the headline. My only question is, ‘When do we get driverless tractors?’”  end mark