The first testing at the Experimental Farm in Nappan began in 1966, making the Maritime Beef Cattle Test Station a reality. The testing comprised of 15 bulls and was sponsored by the Provincial Departments of Agriculture, as well as the Canada Department of Agriculture. There were five bulls from each of the three Maritime Provinces.
The first test was successfully completed in 1967. Due to the success of the initial two test years, both bull entrants and fees were increased the following year, as well as a new building constructed to be able to house 100 bulls, with adequate office space and storage facilities. Since then, there have been countless renovations and updates to the property and structures over the past 50+ years to allow for successful completion, such as improved cattle handling, space allowances, parking, loading of cattle and many more.
The Maritime Beef Testing Society was incorporated with appropriate By-laws in June, 1970, under the Joint Stock Companies Act of Nova Scotia. The management was then taken over by a Board of Directors. The Board was set up to have a member from the following representatives: the beef breeders from each Province, the Department of Agriculture in each Province, the Production and Marketing Branch, Canada Department of Agriculture and the Research Branch of the Canada Department of Agriculture.
The first auction sale was held in the test barn at the completion of the winter test in April, 1974. As the sales continued to draw in more people over the years, a sales facility was constructed in 1995 that provided capacity for 1,500 people. From 1974 to 2008, there were 2,366 bulls sold through the MBTS. Additionally, over the years there have been 23 different breeds tested on, totalling over 7,000 bulls altogether. The major breeds are Hereford, Angus, Charolais, Limousin, Simmental and Shorthorn.
MBTS also performed ram testing until 1987, participated in both the Maritime Carcass Value Discovery Program (MCVDP) 2006-2009 and the Heifer Net Feed Efficiency Test Program 2006-2008 and offered a Heifer Evaluation Program over the years.
MBTS has been a leading factor in improving the cattle industry within the Maritimes, while receiving full support and cooperation of many cattlemen. In addition to providing a direct service to beef producers, it has been a tremendous tool in educating producers with the importance of Record of Performance testing in beef cattle breeding and selection. The tests offered here can be used as market tools in order to produce cattle that the specific market requires. Additionally, the sales held at the station allow for cattle producers to have a market for cattle.
The program has made significant progress since its inception in 1966. The result is evident when today’s cattle are compared to those tested in the early years. MBTS has grown and developed into a very important contributor to the Maritime Cattle Industry. The test station’s programs have been leaders in improving the cattle industry in Eastern Canada.