headless mike



During September 1945, Farmer Lloyd Olsen was ordered by his wife to bring back a chicken for supper. Olsen beheaded the chicken, but the axe missed the chicken’s jugular vein, leaving one ear and the most of the brain stem intact. Since basic functions (breathing, heart-rate, etc.) as well as most of a chicken’s reflex actions are controlled by the brain stem, Mike was able to remain quite healthy.

Olsen kept Mike alive by feeding him a mixture of milk and water via an eyedropper; he was also fed small grains of corn. Mike couldn’t crow anymore, but he made a gurgling sound in his throat in place of his usual crowing.

The rooster soon became famous. Nicknamed “The Headless Wonder Chicken,” he toured the country and people paid 25 cents to see his body. At one point, Mike was earning $4,500 a month and was valued at $10,000. Mike died 2 year later by choking on a kernel of corn. 

In pulling up some reference images of chocolate Wyandottes (for Father’s Day art, aw, so sweet), I hit the middle-ground results for chicken images and lo and behold, Headless Mike.  Rudimentary motor functions for chickens don’t require that wad of gum in their skull, the brain stem is good enough.  Headless Mike lived for 18 months without his head.  Chickens are cockroaches.