Mike, The Headless Chicken

How long can something headless live? A human, not long, but a chicken maybe up to a year. If you’ve been present at a chicken slaughter, you’d know that cutting the head off doesn’t mean it’s going to drop dead. It will run around for a bit.

On September 10, 1945, Lloyd Olsen a farmer from Fruita , Colorado decided the chicken his family will have for dinner would be a five – month Wyandotte chicken named Mike. He grabbed the chicken and used an axe to cut their head off, but luckily for Mike, the chicken, his jugular vein and most of his brain was intact, so he just ran around headless trying to escape further torture.

Olsen couldn’t kill the chicken and just decided to care for him instead. He fed the it milk and water using an eyedropper, he also gave it grains and worms.

Because Mike escaped death, he quickly rose to fame. Everyone was amazed by this chicken that cheated death, he became a local celebrity of sorts.

He began touring the country with his owner because everyone wanted to see the wonder chicken. He was photographed for many publications, including Time and Life magazines, a feat many humans will never accomplish.

He made money for Farmer Olsen too, the farmer earned $4,500 a month which is equivalent to $59000 today and Mike’s worth was $10000 which is equivalent to $131000

Do you feel bad that a chicken in the 1940s earned more than you ever have in your life? I know I do.

Unfortunately, while on a stopover from the tour in a hotel in Arizona in March 1947, Mike the chicken choked on a kernel of corn that got stuck in its throat.
The Olsen’s had left their feeding and cleaning syringes at a show the day before, and so were unable to save Mike.

Mike the headless chicken made history and has a special day dedicated to him which is celebrated on the third weekend of May since 1999. He was also the inspiration for a punk band called Radiocative Chicken Heads and was the subject of their song in 2008 titled “Headless Mike” which was accompanied by a music video.

And there you have it, the story of one chicken that defied death and went on to make history.