Mike the Headless Chicken Day
Can a chicken live without its head?
Interestingly enough, yes.
On September 10, 1945, a young rooster in Fruita, Colorado, survived the traumatic experience of having its head chopped off by its owner.
Reportedly, the axe had left the jugular vein completely untouched and enough of the brain stem remained attached to the neck for the young cockerel to live happily for an additional two years.
Mike the headless chicken became a famed star as he was touring the US and making his appearance on the pages of Life and Time magazines. You could come face to face with “Mike the Headless Wonder Chicken” as his owner, Lloyd Olsen, charged 25 cents for a chance to meet him in sideshows across the country. Olsen kept the head.
As a matter of fact, the original head was lost to Olsen's cat, instead, he was carrying a dried substitute to complete the chicken. At the peak of his career, Mike proved to be a real gold mine as he was making $4,500 a month, and was valued at $10,000. The cruel reality is that Mike's success brought about a series copycat chicken beheadings, whereby people were trying to produce their own money-makers. Needless to say, none of the unlucky candidates made it to be the next national celebrity.
If you think about this for a second, it might not be perfectly clear how the headless chicken managed to stay alive the ability to feed properly. The truth is Olsen made use of an eyedropper to fed and watered Mike. You might be also wondering how one's loss of a head affects their future well-being in life.
In Mike's case, the consequence wasn't what one would expect. In the 2 years after he discarded his head, he put on almost 6 pounds and spent most of his time blissfully preening and pecking for food with his neck. As one person close to Mike remarked: “He was a big fat chicken who didn’t know he didn’t have a head.”
The bitter end for the headless chicken came unexpectedly on one night when they were staying in a motel room in Phoenix, Arizona. Having left the eyedropper at the scene of the previous day’s show, Lloyd Olsen was unable to clear Mike's airways when he started to choke.
Mike is not forgotten. He remains in the memory of those he left behind, as in Fruita, Colorado, the “Mike the Headless Chicken” Day is celebrated every May since the end of the '90s.