Notwithstanding some of the stories around here, this one is actually true. Apparently. It concerns the curious case of Mike, the headless chicken.
On September 10, 1945 Loyd Olsen of Fruita, CO, went to the chicken coop to harvest a rooster for dinner. He chose Mike, a young Wyandotte. Unfortunately, his decapitation skills left something to be desired, and instead of killing him, he removed everything except one ear and most of the brain stem. From the evidence it seems that his head was still partially attached to his body. But not by much.
Mr. Olsen took it upon himself to continue to care for Mike, having failed to kill him. He seemed able to perch, make a kind of gargling sound, and, using a syringe and an eyedropper, he could imbibe liquid and small grains of corn.
Much of his spare time was spent “pecking” for food with his neck.
The strangest part of the story is that Mike, with his new found talents, soon began touring the country. His lease of life was not that short lived, and he managed, between his beheading and his eventual death some 18 months later, to gain five pounds.
He made the cover of Time, and Life magazines, as he toured in side shows along with such companions as a two-headed cow. At the height of his fame he was valued at $10,000. A wave of copy-cat beheadings swept the nation. None, however, managed to live more than a day or two.
In the spring of 1947, as the world was recovering from the war, Mike, on tour in Phoenix, succumbed to a choking fit. The Olsens had forgotten their anti-choking kit, and the Guiness Book of Records reported that his severed trachea could not take in sufficient air to survive.
How could all this have happened? Well, the Olsen axe had missed the carotid artery and a clot had prevented him from bleeding to death. His brain stem being left largely undamaged, all the survival functions were available to Mike (breathing, heart rate, etc).
To this day, in Fruita, Colorado, Mike the headless chicken is remembered, memorialized really, on the third weekend of May which is Mike the Headless Chicken Day. Activities during the festivities include 5K Run Like a Headless Chicken Race, egg toss, and Pin the Head on the Chicken.