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How Long Can a Chicken Live Without It's Head?

Updated on October 15, 2017

About One and a Half Years...

I'm sure you pondered this question yourself before and soon said to yourself 'Not long...I think...I don't know...but it can't be long'. Well here is an answer, as good as any, to give to anyone who asks you!

Introducing...Mike! On the 10th of September 1945, a young cockerel in Fruita, Colarado, named Mike, had his head chopped off. And lived. In what was a very unlikely scenario, the axe had missed the jugular vein in his neck and had left enough of the brain stem attached for him to survive.
Mike was transformed into a superstar! He toured the country with his owner, Lloyd Olsen, who charged twenty-five cents for a chance to meet 'Mike the Headless Wonder Chicken' in shows across the U.S.A. Mike would even be present on stage with a dried chicken's head posing as his own. Unfortunately, Olsen's cat had made off with the original!
At the height of his fame, Mike starred in Time and Life magazine and was making $4,500 a month, and was valued at $10,000. A wave of cockerel and chicken owners tried, mostly in vain to create their own alive-beheaded-cockerel. Sadly most of these victims lived only for a day or two.

How Mike Survived

Mike was fed in the neck where his head formerly was, via an eye dropper. Mike spent most of his average day joyfully 'pecking' for food with his neck. A person who new Mike well commented 'He was a big fat chicken who didn't know he didn't have a head.' Remarkably, two years after he lost his head, Mike manged to gain nearly six pounds in weight!

Mike's Dedicated Statue
Mike's Dedicated Statue | Source

Tragic Struck

One night in a motel room in Phoenix, Arizona, Mike started to choke. Olsen, realised he'd left the eyedropper miles away at the show from the previous day. With Olsen helpless without the eyedropper, Mike choked to death.

Mike remains as a cult figure in Colarado and, every May since 1999, Fruita has marked his passing with a 'Mike the Headless Chicken' Day.

And there you go. Above, is your answer to the question you have asked, will ask and may be asked again.

Get in on the action

Take a look at the Mike The Headless Chicken website for photo's, information on the Mike festival, Mike's market and much more!




- The book of general ignorance, by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson.


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    • Magdaleine profile image

      Magdaleine 5 years ago

      Interesting! :)