A love of the land inspired Tania and Nicole Hartwig to establish their own Charolais stud on the family beef property in central Queensland when they were still children.

Story By Briar Jensen

"Can we please have money towards a semen tank, Grandma?” requested Nicole and Tania Hartwig, after they were asked what they wanted for their 13th and 16th birthdays. Not your average teenage birthday present, but these sisters were not your average teenage girls.
Nicole and Tania were just 12 and 15 when they started their own Charolais stud, Tanic, on their parents’ Hereford property outside Monto, a three-hour drive south of Rockhampton, Queensland. They had been showing led steers at local agricultural shows and loved the competition, but there was a serious drawback.
“We used to get very attached to the led steers and come the end of show season, when we had to sell them to the meatworks, that was really hard,” Nicole says. Tania adds, “And we liked the idea that we may be able to win competitions with cattle we had bred ourselves.” So the idea for a stud was born. “When we asked Mum and Dad about starting the stud, they made it clear we would have to be entirely responsible for it, both financially and with all decision making,” Tania says.
Having researched various breeds, they were still undecided when a Charolais catalogue arrived in the mail. “There were some heifers we liked the look of,” Nicole says. “So we sent Dad to the sale to buy as many as our bank balance would allow.”
It was 2003 and their savings bought them six heifers. From there it was a huge learning curve. “The whole process of setting up a stud, how to source stock, how to record the information – everything was new,” Tania says. “There was lots of research to do about bloodlines and deciding on what we wanted to finally produce.”
Nicole completed an artificial-insemination course when she was 15 and Tania a pregnancy-testing course at 17. “It’s the standing joke that I get to see if Nicole is doing her job,” Tania says. The ‘Hartwig girls’, as they are known, received help from the Charolais Society of Australia and people within the stud industry who were inspired to see two young girls giving it a go.

This story excerpt is from Issue #59

Outback Magazine: June/July 2008