Friday, July 15, 2022

Mike the Headless Chicken

As many of you know I'm an animal lover. I have dogs, ducks, horses, and a miniature donkey. I like chickens. I don't have any but if I did, I would probably end up being one of those crazy chicken ladies because I do love my ducks! So, when my niece mentioned Mike the headless chicken, my first thought was to feel sorry for the bird. 

                                                          This is my sweet Chickie

Mike was born in April of 1945 in Fruita, Colorado. He was a Wyandotte Chicken and lived on a farm with his buddy chickens and his owner, Llyod Olsen. The Olsen's killed several chickens at a time, some for their own dinner table and others to take to market to sell. Mrs. Olsen would take the chickens they were keeping and pluck the feathers and prepare them for eating. 

According to his grandson, on this particular day, Lloyd was out on his farm cutting chicken's heads off and throwing them all down in a pile. When he finished his job, he noticed one of the chickens was still running around. Now, Lloyd had seen chickens occasionally run around for a minute or two after decapitation, but this rooster had far exceeded that. This rooster wouldn't die.

When I was growing up, the neighbor boys near us would have to behead their chickens and they thought it was hilarious how they ran around for a minute or two headless. Well, this is much what happened with Mike. The rooster continued to run around and so Lloyd stopped the chicken from bleeding. The next morning when Lloyd went outside, Mike was sleeping with his headless neck under his wing. After two or three days when Mike was still living, people started hearing about it. They started coming by to see this wonder. 

You can see a picture of Mike the Headless chicken HERE. Due to copyright laws I can't publish it here. 

A man named HB Wade who was good at promoting such things heard about the rooster and approached the Olsens about putting Mike on the show circuit. The couple agreed and hoped to make their fortune and retire. Mike made his way to Salt Lake City,
 Arizona, California, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Washington, and New York. People were willing to pay a few coins to see the headless chicken walk around. He drew large crowds. Life Magazine published an article about Miracle Mike which brought the Olsens a lot of hate mail. People thought that it was cruel to allow the chicken to continue to live.

When he was at the farm and not at the sideshows, Mike tried to live a normal chicken life. He'd go around with his buddies trying to peck the ground and preen his feathers with his neck. He even tried crowing but Lloyd said it sounded more like a gurgling sound. Mike was given water by an eyedropper and given cracked corn in his esophagus. Mike went from a few pounds to eight pounds while on tour. A well fed bird!

One evening after leaving the side show, the Olsens spent the night at a hotel. They woke to the sound of Mike gurgling. Something that happened regularly and they would quickly remove the mucus with an eye dropper. Unfortunately, this night they had left the dropper at the sideshow and before they could find something to clear Mike's throat, he died. 

According to their grandson, the Olsens didn't make a lot of money from Mike. They made just enough to buy a new tractor and pay off some land they owed on. 

So how did the rooster live? It has been determined that Lloyd missed the jugular and a blood clot formed that kept him from bleeding to death. His head was gone but most of his brainstem along with one ear remained intact. A chicken's reflex actions, breathing and heart rate are all controlled by the brain stem. With most of Mike's still being there, he was able to function. 

Today, Fruita CO holds the annual Mike the Headless Chicken Festival. It's a weekend of fun, food, 5k, and games.  

What's your thoughts on Mike the Headless Chicken? Have you heard of him? Do you think it was mean to allow him to live? 

A broken heart, a controlling father, and an intrusive Scot leave Charlotte Jackson reeling. Accused of stealing an heirloom pin, she must choose between an unwanted marriage and the ruin of her family name. With the futures of her three younger sisters at stake, as well as her own reputation, Charlotte must navigate through injustice to find forgiveness and true happiness.

Eager to find the traitor who caused the death of his brother, Duncan Mackenzie comes to America and attempts to fit in with Charleston society. But when the headstrong Charlotte catches his eye, Duncan takes on a second mission—acquiring the lass's hand. After being spurned several times, he uses unconventional ways of winning her heart.

Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of Sword of Forgiveness, Amazon's #1 seller for Historical Christian Romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She writes in the medieval/renaissance period as well as 19th century. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 3 dogs, 4 horses, miniature donkey, and 8 ducks. Life is good!


  1. LOL I would say thanks for posting but oh my word!!! It's bad enough to think of keeping a live chicken as a pet, but one with its' head lopped off? No thanks!!! Apologies to all those who love them....

    1. Haha. Crazy history! My daughter loves her chickens!