Miracle Mike: The chicken that lived for 18 months without a head3 min read
Mike the Headless Rooster was a specimen of Wyandotte cockerel who, according to the stories of the time, lived for 18 months after his head had been cut off. Although this may resemble the classic urban legend, the story is fully documented and testified by the pages of Time Magazine, Life and many other newspapers of the time.
The story of “Mike the Rooster without Head” begins about seventy years ago, in April 1945, when an anonymous chicken was born on an anonymous farm. Here, a farmer beheaded a chicken that refused to die, Mike, that survived for 18 months and became famous. On 10 September 1945 Lloyd Olsen and his wife Clara were killing chickens, on their farm in Fruita, Colorado. Olsen would decapitate the birds, his wife would clean them up. But one of the 40 or 50 animals that went under Olsen’s hatchet that day didn’t behave like the rest. Although the acephalia is not a condition that allows life, the chicken survives, losing only a little blood. The rooster, as sometimes happens in the case of a clean cut to the head, made a short run and then stopped, as if nothing had happened. He tried to catch on the ground but, of course, he could not. The next morning, Olsen took the chicken carcasses to town to sell them at the meat market, he took the rooster with him and started betting people beer or something that he had a live headless chicken.
So Olsen decided to leave him alive and to continue taking care of him. Mike was fed with liquid food and water that the Olsens dropped directly into his oesophagus. They fed him with a dropper, and cleared his throat with a syringe. So, rooster and farmer then began, of course, a tour of America, with Olsen asking for 25 cents to see the prodigious “Miracle Mike”. To dispel the doubts about the veracity of the news, Olsen brought the rooster to be examined by the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where the chicken was put through a battery of tests. Rumour has it that university scientists surgically removed the heads of many other chickens to see whether any would live. Today no written documents remain of that visit, but at the time the story was considered true both by the media and by the spectators who went to see the show.
Mike’s adventures well yielded to the breeder, who came to earn $ 4,500 a month with his traveling show. But it was precisely because of the carelessness of the man that the rooster died, suffocated by a grain of corn in a hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. On March 17, 1947, the story of poor Mike ended, the fattened chicken weighing 3 kilograms even without a head.
Today the inhabitants of Fruita, the birthplace of the cockerel, remember Mike with a statue in the central square of the country and with an annual “Mike the Headless Chicken Festival”, which takes place every May or June since 1999. During the party there are ran “like a headless rooster”, the egg throwing contest and even a bingo version where numbers are not drawn, but shouted based on where the chicken feces fall.