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Mike The Headless Chicken is Real (and Has a Festival in His Honor)

Mike the Headless Chicken is Real (and has a Festival in His Honor)

Mike the Headless Chicken made a name for himself back in the 1940s. Was this real or a complete hoax?

We scoured the Internet to find the answer for you. Warning: Parts of this article may be a little graphic.

Let’s dig in!

Really? A Headless Chicken?

Yes. As crazy as it sounds, there really was a headless chicken named Mike who lived for 18 months after having his head chopped off. Multiple resources say the story is true, so we dug in to find out more.

How Mike Became a Headless Chicken – and Lived

In 1945, Lloyd Olsen, a farmer in Fruita, Colorado, grabbed a chicken to butcher for dinner. His mother-in-law would be joining them and he knew she especially loved the neck. Lloyd positioned the bird and brought down his ax.

The chicken did the normal flopping around that happens, but never stopped moving. That’s when Lloyd realized he hadn’t actually killed the chicken. In fact, it walked around pecking for food and attempting to preen its feathers.

Pro Tip: If the ghost of Mike the Headless Chicken isn’t eerie enough for you, check out these 5 Must-See Ghost Towns in Colorado.

Many chickens running around on farm.
Mike the Headless Chicken lived for 18 months after having his head chopped off!

Lloyd let the poor headless chicken be and found it the next morning behaving like a normal bird. He discovered that part of Mike’s (no one knows when the name came about) head was still there. So he started trying to feed him through his exposed throat with a dropper, figuring if Mike wanted to live that badly he’d help him.

After about a week, Lloyd took Mike to the University of Utah where scientists took a look. They decided that the ax had missed Mike’s jugular. Furthermore, a clot prevented him from bleeding to death.

In addition, Mike still had his brain stem and cerebellum, which allowed his body to perform autonomic functions and survive. However, Lloyd had to feed him by dropping food into his open esophagus.

Many would say he wasn’t alive, but that his body was simply living.

Woman feeding chickens on her farm.
Stop by Fruita, Colorado during the last weekend of August for the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival.

Mike the Headless Chicken Festival

Over time, Mike the Headless Chicken became famous and even had an agent. They toured the country, charging 25 cents per view. Life and Time magazines even wrote articles about him. After about 18 months, Mike started choking on something and Lloyd couldn’t find the dropper they usually used to clear his throat.

Mike passed on that night, but he’s celebrated every year at the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival in Fruita. The celebration started in 1999, more than 50 years after his death, and is put on by the city of Fruita the last weekend of August.

The festival includes events such as a 5k run, a disc golf tournament, Mike Games, and a poultry show. The city also brings in several bands and food vendors for the weekend.

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Mike Lives On

Mike the Headless Chicken certainly had a unique life, and he lives on through the spirit of his festival. Have you been to Mike’s celebration?

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