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20 Interesting Headless Chicken Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
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20 Interesting Headless Chicken Facts

A chicken going around without a head – isn’t the very thought of it freaking you out? No matter how untrue the story may seem or no matter how hard people try to stamp it as an urban legend, the story of a headless chicken is as true as the sun or the earth or the moon! Curious? Fine! Let us learn 20 interesting Headless Chicken facts and find out what really happened.

Interesting Headless Chicken Facts: 1-10

1. The headless chicken is popular by the name ‘Mike the Headless Chicken’ and ‘Miracle Mike’.

2. Miracle Mike was born in April 1945 and died in 1947.

3. Miracle Mike was actually a Wyandotte chicken that managed to survive for 18 months after its head was cut off! No wonder he earned the moniker.

4. Initially people considered the incident to be a hoax but the owner of the chicken actually carried the bird to University of Utah so that the story of the chicken could be established.

The Story of Beheading

5. It was September 10, 1945 when Lloyd Olsen, a farmer based in Fruita, Colorado, US decided to enjoy supper along with his mother-in-law.

6. Olsen asked his wife to get Mike – the 5 month and 15 days old cockerel. poor Mike was just moments away from meeting his maker when something weird happened.

7. The axe that was used for chopping off chicken head somehow slipped and cut off the head of Mike but missed the jugular vein. Most of the brain stem and one ear of Mike was left intact and the rest was off!

8. At this stage, Mike somehow balanced on a perch and was still able to walk clumsily. Mike even tried preening and pecking food and even tried crowing but alas, the success was very limited.

9. Mike’s crowing at this stage sounded very much like gurgling sound emanating out of his throat.

10. Mr. Lloyd Olsen, baffled by the situation, eventually decided to keep Mike alive and take full care of him. So, he started feeding Mike with a milk-water mixture.

Interesting Headless Chicken Facts: 11-20

Fame, Death and Legacy of Miracle Mike

11. It didn’t take long for Mike to get famous. He went on touring to different places for sideshows and was put on public display for 25 cents admission cost.

12. There were times when Mike earned up to $4,500 a month, which is $47,500 per month in today’s context.

13. During those days, the monetary valuation of Mike was $10,000.

14. Mike was traveling back from a tour in 1947 and stopped at Phoenix motel for the night. However, in the middle of the night, things went wrong and Mike choked.

15. Mike’s owners tried saving Mike but unfortunately, they left Mike’s cleaning and feeding syringes at the sideshow where Mike appeared the day before.

16. There was nothing the Olsen’s could do but to watch Mike choking to death. Later Olsen’s said that they sold off Mike and this led to stories that Mike was still out there, touring throughout USA as late as 1949.

17. So, how did Mike manage to survive that night when he was beheaded. Doctors say that the axe missed the jugular vein and a blood clot prevented death by bleeding.

18. Since most of the brain stem and an ear was left on Mike’s body, Mike managed to stay healthy. According to doctors, the brain stem is responsible for controlling a chicken’s reflex actions and basic functions like heart rate and breathing. Thus, despite the absence of the cerebral cortex, central motor generators of Mike enabled basic functions.

19. Today in Fruita, Colorado there is an institution named ‘Mike the Headless Chicken’ and the institution actually organizes annual “Mike the Headless Chicken Day”.

20. “Mike the Headless Chicken Day” is celebrated since 1999 and is celebrated on 3rd weekend of May each year with a number of fun events like “Chicken Bingo”, “Pin the Head on the Chicken” etc.

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Image Credits: 1, 2

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