Mike the Headless Chicken
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Mike the Headless Chicken

"Miracle Mike" was a rooster that survived decapitation in Fruita, Colorado in 1945.

Every year around the middle of May, a very unusual celebration happens in the town of Fruita, Colorado. The event features copious amounts of chicken, lawnmower races, and a 5K "Run Like a Headless Chicken" road race. Participants also often are seen wearing costumes of a chicken sans the head.

What provoked the citizens of Fruita to enjoy such a unique celebration? The story began (and should have ended) on September 10, 1945, when Lloyd Olsen was intending to turn his plump and prized Wyandotte rooster into a meal for his mother-in-law. As Lloyd put it, "It was as important to Suck-Up to your Mother in Law in the 40's as it is today." This meant that Lloyd left some extra neck on the chicken when aiming his axe stroke. After the blade fell, the chicken began running around, but strangely enough, he had not stopped moving after some time. When the headless chicken continued trying to peck for food, Olsen realized that a replacement chicken was necessary. The next morning, Lloyd awoke to find the chicken fast asleep and quite all right, except for the fact that he was missing his head. Lloyd improvised feeding the chicken by inserting an eyedropper into his esophagus.

Eager to present his unusual scenario to the academic community and learn more about why "Mike" was doing just fine, Olsen packed him up and drove to the University of Colorado. There, he was told that his perfectly-placed axe stroke had missed Mike's jugular and left enough of the brain stem to allow Mike to retain his basic reflexes, thereby preventing Mike from bleeding to death and allowing him to function normally.

Mike's fame rapidly grew, and with the Olsens in tow, he took a nationwide tour and amazed audiences all over the country with his remarkable will to live. By the end of his career, Mike was valued and insured at 10,000 dollars, and the Olsens gained some fame and fortune through the defiant rooster's success story. Unfortunately, one night in Arizona, Mike began to choke after being fed, and he died when the food could not be cleared.

In the end, Mike survived decapitation and lived for about 18 months after the incident, surpassing Marie Antoinette's former record by about 18 months. Today, citizens of Fruita remember "Miracle Mike's" inspirational story by throwing him a two-day celebration.




All pictures are used by permission of Roxanne McConnell and www.miketheheadlesschicken.org

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Comments (6)

Very interesting and humorous article. That sure was some value on a chicken! I'm sorry I'm out of votes for today but will buzz this.

Thank you!

Ranked #18 in Farm Animals

Hahaha! -In the end, Mike survived decapitation and lived for about 18 months after the incident, surpassing Marie Antoinette’s former record by about 18 months. Funny! I'm actually surprised that some Hannibal Lecter-type has not tried to repeat this incident with ...medical accuracy..

Oh, thank you, somebody finally got my joke!

Well done article, Mr. LaBarge! I've read about Mike The Headless Chicken before but your article is a nice reminder about the phenomena of the headless chicken. I've enjoyed the way you put the information together in an interesting way, including the inclusion of photos. Thanks for the enjoyable material.

Thank you for the generous compliment, Tracy! I read about this little guy many years ago and wondered how many people knew about Mike.