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Published on April 21, 2024
Sevierville's SkyLand Ranch Under Scrutiny as Tennessee Agriculture Department Investigates Livestock WelfareSource: Google Street View

A popular Sevierville attraction, Skyland Ranch, has become the subject of a livestock welfare investigation by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA), as confirmed by multiple sources on Thursday.

The inquiry was initiated after a complaint was logged on Wednesday, spotlighting concerns about the ranch's longhorn cattle. Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs at TDA, Corinne Gould, confirmed the ongoing probe but details were scant due to the nature of the open investigation according to WVLT News. Meanwhile, ranch owner Mark Williford defended his establishment, stating that the “TN Dept. of Agriculture already came out and inspected. They found no issues," as he told WATE News.

According to Williford, the inspection involved a thorough examination of the feed and the pasture where the longhorns are corralled at night, which spans an expansive 25 acres on the farm. Emphasizing the ranch's commitment to animal care, Williford assured, “We treat our animals like kings,” in an interview obtained by WVLT News.

SkyLand Ranch, a $40 million enterprise that opened in November of 2023, sits on 100 acres and boasts multiple attractions including a mountain coaster, live entertainment, and a variety of animals such as miniature horses, llamas, and goats. Jordan Briggs, SkyLand Ranch’s director of sales and marketing, told 10News, "She saw the condition of the animals and said they were in great condition," referring to the TDA inspector's remarks about the longhorns.

This isn't the first instance of animal welfare concerns casting shadows over attractions in the area. A reminder of past issues surfaced as 10News also prodded TDA for updates on the separate investigation concerning Jayell Ranch, which was criticized on social media last year for allegedly mistreating horses. TDA has confirmed that they are still investigating the Jayell Ranch complaint, but due to the open nature of investigations, they could not provide additional comment at this time.