Science Of...

Mike The Headless Chicken Beat The Odds

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The story of Mike the headless chicken is not a folktale. Mike was a rooster born in April of 1945, and lived in Fruita, Colorado. The farmer Lloyd Olsen raised chickens for slaughter at his farm, chopping the heads off chickens and letting them bleed out. But one chicken didn't settle down to die after his beheading. Somehow, Mike survived the beheading just fine. After visiting a science lab, it was revealed that Lloyd had chopped Mike's head off a little high, just about the brain stem. Mike had normal behavior for a chicken, and still tried to peck for food and prune itself with its head stump. Mike toured the country as a sideshow attraction before choking to death.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Chickens are sometimes still active after getting their heads cut off, hence the phrase "running around like a chicken with it's head cut off." 00:44

  2. Mike the headless chicken had his head cut off, but it was cut slightly above the brain stem. 01:16

  3. Mike the headless chicken lived for 18 months without a head, and even gained 6 lbs. 01:31

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