Posted on May 17, 2014
This story may be a little hard to take for animal lovers – so I'm warning people against the killing of animals for meat to read no further. But it is such a crazy-interesting story, I had to write about it!
Way back in 1945, a Colorado farmer named Lloyd Olsen set off to kill a tender young rooster for that night's dinner. Knowing that his mother-in-law would be eating with them, and that she dearly loved neck of chicken, Lloyd tried to cut the rooster's head off in such a way that there would be a very generous neck bone.
Apparently, when farmers cut a chicken's head off, the chicken can stagger around, headless, for a short while (30 seconds or so) before they run out of blood and die. But that didn't happen this time. Instead, this particular rooster staggered a bit but then started trying to peck for food and preen his feathers just like normal.
Normal...except that it no longer had a head!
Of course, the rooster wasn't able to eat food without a beak, and he wasn't able to preen his feathers without a beak – but he was able to run off from the farmer.
I'm not sure what the family ate that night, but they certainly didn't eat the headless chicken!
The next morning, Lloyd found the chicken sleeping with his neck tucked under his wing. He was still alive. The farmer decided that the chicken was special. He named him Mike, gave the chicken grain and water with an eyedropper, and after a while took the remarkable bird to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City for study by scientists.
It turned out that Lloyd's attempt for a lot of neck bone meant that Mike still had most of his brain stem and one ear. And Mike didn't bleed to death because the axe blade had missed the jugular vein, and a clot had formed in the vessel that was cut.
Mike, the Headless Chicken, (also called "Miracle Mike" and "the Wonder Chicken") became famous as he lived for 18 more months! He seemed quite healthy, and he grew from 2.5 pounds to almost 8 pounds. Mike was featured in Life and Time magazines and in the book of Guinness World Records. He went on a national tour, even.
If you want to find out more about Mike the Headless Chicken, check out this website.
The people of Fruita, Colorado, hold a Mike the Headless Chicken Festival every year on the third weekend in Mary. In Mike's honor, celebrating one chicken's amazing will to live, there is a 5K run, a disc golf tournament, a chicken eating contest (isn't that ironic!), live music, and artisan booths.
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