Mike the Chicken

Mike, a five-and-a-half-month-old male Wyandotte chicken belonged to farmer Lloyd Olsen of Fruita, Colorado. On September 10, 1945, Lloyd’s mother-in-law was coming for a visit, so Lloyd decided to chop Mike’s head off and prepare him for supper.

The axe didn’t fall true. Mike’s head was cut off, but the axe had missed his jugular vein, left one ear and most of his brain stem intact. All chickens flop and flutter around after having their heads chopped off because the pressure of the axe causes a burst of electricity to run down all the nerves leading to the muscles, telling them to move even though They are already dead.

But Mike the chicken didn’t die. He was able to balance on a perch, walk clumsily and tried to preen, peck for food and crow. He could only make gurgling sounds.

Instead of finishing the job he started, farmer Olson decided to take care of the bird. He fed Mike milk and water with an eye dropper. He also gave Mike worms and small pieces of grain.

Lloyd toured the country with Mike the headless chicken to display him at side shows. Mike the headless chicken became famous. The income he earned the Olson family amounted to a lot more than chicken feed.

     One night when Mike was two years old, he choked to death on a kernel of corn. That still wasn’t the end of Mike, though. The town of Fruita, Colorado celebrates “Mike the Headless Chicken Day” each May with a “5K Run Like a Headless Chicken Race”, egg toss, “Pin the Head on the Chicken”, “Chicken Cluck-Off and “Chicken Bingo” in which chicken droppings on a numbered grid choose the winning numbers.

I hope Lloyd shared his new-found wealth with his mother-in-law!


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