September 10 marks a macabre miracle: the improbable survival of Mike, the Headless Chicken on a Colorado farm in 1945. On a late summer day on his farm, Lloyd Olsen was sent outside to grab his five-month-old rooster for dinner. This was a fairly normal practice; roosters are prone to fighting when there is more than one, so extras were regularly eaten. What wasn't so normal, though, was what happened after Lloyd took this bird to the chopping block.
After getting his head chopped off, the rooster got back up and started walking around. Olsen waited for the bird to die, but he ended up waiting longer than anyone expected. When It was apparent that Mike was going to live, Olsen decided to see how long he could keep him alive.
Olsen started giving Mike powdered chicken feed mixed with milk and water through an eyedropper straight down his throat. Sometimes he would give him worms and small grains of corn, too.
As the rooster persisted in defying the odds, Lloyd did the only thing he could do in such a situation— take him down to the local bar and use him to win bets. One of the people at the bar was impressed and convinced Lloyd to enroll the rooster in a freak show. That proved to be a really wise move, as he earned about $4,500. In today's money, that would be just about $55,000 a month, making Mike possibly the most valuable rooster ever.
A lot of people thought it was a trick until scientists from the University of Utah came to examine Mike the Headless Chicken. They found that the farmer's ax stroke had somehow missed the jugular vein, and quick-clotting blood prevented Mike from bleeding to death. They furthermore found that Mike's brain stem was left intact, and that did the work of controlling the body.
Mike survived an astonishing 18 months after he was beheaded, eventually choking to death on a corn kernel.