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This Chicken Lived for Two Years Without a Head

This Chicken Lived for Two Years Without a Head

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An adult male is a called a cock or rooster (in the United States) and an adult female is called a hen. [10] [11]

  • biddy: newly hatched chicken [12][13]
  • capon: castrated or neutered male chicken [a]
  • chick: young chicken [14]
  • chook/ tʃ ʊ k / : chicken (Australia, informal) [15]
  • cockerel: young male chicken less than a year old [16]
  • pullet: young female chicken less than a year old. [17] In the poultry industry, a pullet is a sexually immature chicken less than 22 weeks of age. [18]
  • yardbird: chicken (southern United States, dialectal) [19]

"Chicken" was originally a term only for an immature, or at least young, bird. But thanks to its usage on restaurant menus has now become the most common term for the subspecies in general, especially in American English. "Chicken" as a specie, and in older sources was typically referred as common fowl or domestic fowl. [20]

Chicken may also mean a chick (see for example Hen and Chicken Islands) . [21]

According to Merriam-Webster, the term "rooster" (i.e. a roosting bird) originated in the mid- or late 18th century as a euphemism to avoid the sexual connotation of the original English "cock", [22] [23] [24] and is widely used throughout North America. "Roosting" is the action of perching aloft to sleep at night, which is done by both sexes.

Chickens are omnivores. [25] In the wild, they often scratch at the soil to search for seeds, insects and even animals as large as lizards, small snakes, [26] or young mice. [27]

The average chicken may live for five to ten years, depending on the breed. [28] The world's oldest known chicken was a hen which died of heart failure at the age of 16 years according to the Guinness World Records. [29]

Roosters can usually be differentiated from hens by their striking plumage of long flowing tails and shiny, pointed feathers on their necks (hackles) and backs (saddle), which are typically of brighter, bolder colours than those of females of the same breed.

However, in some breeds, such as the Sebright chicken, the rooster has only slightly pointed neck feathers, the same colour as the hen's. The identification can be made by looking at the comb, or eventually from the development of spurs on the male's legs (in a few breeds and in certain hybrids, the male and female chicks may be differentiated by colour). Adult chickens have a fleshy crest on their heads called a comb, or cockscomb, and hanging flaps of skin either side under their beaks called wattles. Collectively, these and other fleshy protuberances on the head and throat are called caruncles. Both the adult male and female have wattles and combs, but in most breeds these are more prominent in males.

A muff or beard is a mutation found in several chicken breeds which causes extra feathering under the chicken's face, giving the appearance of a beard. Domestic chickens are not capable of long-distance flight, although lighter chickens are generally capable of flying for short distances, such as over fences or into trees (where they would naturally roost). Chickens may occasionally fly briefly to explore their surroundings, but generally do so only to flee perceived danger.


Social behaviour

Chickens are gregarious birds and live together in flocks. They have a communal approach to the incubation of eggs and raising of young. Individual chickens in a flock will dominate others, establishing a "pecking order", with dominant individuals having priority for food access and nesting locations. Removing hens or roosters from a flock causes a temporary disruption to this social order until a new pecking order is established. Adding hens, especially younger birds, to an existing flock can lead to fighting and injury. [30] When a rooster finds food, he may call other chickens to eat first. He does this by clucking in a high pitch as well as picking up and dropping the food. This behaviour may also be observed in mother hens to call their chicks and encourage them to eat.

A rooster's crowing is a loud and sometimes shrill call and sends a territorial signal to other roosters. [31] However, roosters may also crow in response to sudden disturbances within their surroundings. Hens cluck loudly after laying an egg, and also to call their chicks. Chickens also give different warning calls when they sense a predator approaching from the air or on the ground. [32]


Roosters almost always start crowing before four months of age. Although it is possible for a hen to crow as well, crowing (together with hackles development) is one of the clearest signs of being a rooster. [33]

Rooster crowing contests

Rooster crowing contests are a traditional sport in several countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, [34] the United States, Indonesia and Japan. The oldest contests are held with longcrowers. Depending on the breed, either the duration of the crowing or the times the rooster crows within a certain time is measured.


To initiate courting, some roosters may dance in a circle around or near a hen ("a circle dance"), often lowering the wing which is closest to the hen. [35] The dance triggers a response in the hen [35] and when she responds to his "call", the rooster may mount the hen and proceed with the mating.

More specifically, mating typically involves the following sequence: 1. Male approaching the hen. 2. Male pre-copulatory waltzing. 3. Male waltzing. 4. Female crouching (receptive posture) or stepping aside or running away (if unwilling to copulate). 5. Male mounting. 6. Male treading with both feet on hen's back. 7. Male tail bending (following successful copulation). [36]

Nesting and laying behaviour

Hens will often try to lay in nests that already contain eggs and have been known to move eggs from neighbouring nests into their own. The result of this behaviour is that a flock will use only a few preferred locations, rather than having a different nest for every bird. Hens will often express a preference to lay in the same location. It is not unknown for two (or more) hens to try to share the same nest at the same time. If the nest is small, or one of the hens is particularly determined, this may result in chickens trying to lay on top of each other. There is evidence that individual hens prefer to be either solitary or gregarious nesters. [37]


Under natural conditions, most birds lay only until a clutch is complete, and they will then incubate all the eggs. Hens are then said to "go broody". The broody hen will stop laying and instead will focus on the incubation of the eggs (a full clutch is usually about 12 eggs). She will "sit" or "set" on the nest, fluff up or pecking in defense if disturbed or removed. The hen will rarely leave the nest to eat, drink, or dust-bathe. [38] While brooding, the hen maintains the nest at a constant temperature and humidity, as well as turning the eggs regularly during the first part of the incubation. To stimulate broodiness, owners may place several artificial eggs in the nest. To discourage it, they may place the hen in an elevated cage with an open wire floor.

Breeds artificially developed for egg production rarely go broody, and those that do often stop part-way through the incubation. However, other breeds, such as the Cochin, Cornish and Silkie, do regularly go broody, and they make excellent mothers, not only for chicken eggs but also for those of other species — even those with much smaller or larger eggs and different incubation periods, such as quail, pheasants, ducks, turkeys, or geese.

Hatching and early life

Fertile chicken eggs hatch at the end of the incubation period, about 21 days. [35] Development of the chick starts only when incubation begins, so all chicks hatch within a day or two of each other, despite perhaps being laid over a period of two weeks or so. Before hatching, the hen can hear the chicks peeping inside the eggs, and will gently cluck to stimulate them to break out of their shells. The chick begins by "pipping" pecking a breathing hole with its egg tooth towards the blunt end of the egg, usually on the upper side. The chick then rests for some hours, absorbing the remaining egg yolk and withdrawing the blood supply from the membrane beneath the shell (used earlier for breathing through the shell). The chick then enlarges the hole, gradually turning round as it goes, and eventually severing the blunt end of the shell completely to make a lid. The chick crawls out of the remaining shell, and the wet down dries out in the warmth of the nest.

Hens usually remain on the nest for about two days after the first chick hatches, and during this time the newly hatched chicks feed by absorbing the internal yolk sac. Some breeds sometimes start eating cracked eggs, which can become habitual. [39] Hens fiercely guard their chicks, and brood them when necessary to keep them warm, at first often returning to the nest at night. She leads them to food and water and will call them toward edible items, but seldom feeds them directly. She continues to care for them until they are several weeks old.

Defensive behaviour

Chickens may occasionally gang up on a weak or inexperienced predator. At least one credible report exists of a young fox killed by hens. [40] [41] [42] A group of hens have been recorded in attacking a hawk that had entered their coop. [43]

If a chicken is threatened by predators, stress, or is sick, there is a chance that they will puff up their feathers. [38]


Sperm transfer occurs by cloacal contact between the male and female, in a maneuver known as the "cloacal kiss". [44] As with birds in general, reproduction is controlled by a neuroendocrine system, the Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone-I neurons in the hypothalamus. Locally to the reproductive system itself, reproductive hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, gonadotropins (luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone) initiate and maintain sexual maturation changes. Over time there is reproductive decline, thought to be due to GnRH-I-N decline. Because there is significant inter-individual variability in egg-producing duration, it is believed to be possible to breed for further extended useful lifetime in egg-layers. [45]


Chicken embryos have long been used as model systems to study developing embryos. Large numbers of embryos can be provided by commercial chicken farmers who sell fertilized eggs which can be easily opened and used to observe the developing embryo. Equally important, embryologists can carry out experiments on such embryos, close the egg again and study the effect later on. For instance, many important discoveries in the area of limb development have been made using chicken embryos, such as the discovery of the apical ectodermal ridge (AER) and the zone of polarizing activity (ZPA) by John W. Saunders. [46]

In 2006, scientists researching the ancestry of birds "turned on" a chicken recessive gene, talpid2, and found that the embryo jaws initiated formation of teeth, like those found in ancient bird fossils. John Fallon, the overseer of the project, stated that chickens have ". retained the ability to make teeth, under certain conditions. ." [47]

Genetics and genomics

Given its eminent role in farming, meat production, but also research, the house chicken was the first bird genome to be sequenced. [48] At 1.21 Gb, the chicken genome is considerably smaller than other vertebrate genomes, such as the human genome (3 Gb). The final gene set contained 26,640 genes (including noncoding genes and pseudogenes), with a total of 19,119 protein-coding genes in annotation release 103 (2017), a similar number of protein-coding genes as in the human genome. [49]


Populations of chickens from high altitude regions like Tibet have special physiological adaptations that result in a higher hatching rate in low oxygen environments. When eggs are placed in a hypoxic environment, chicken embryos from these populations express much more hemoglobin than embryos from other chicken populations. This hemoglobin also has a greater affinity for oxygen, allowing hemoglobin to bind to oxygen more readily. [50] [51]


Galliformes, the order of bird that chickens belong to, is directly linked to the survival of birds when all other dinosaurs went extinct. Water or ground-dwelling fowl, similar to modern partridges, survived the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event that killed all tree-dwelling birds and dinosaurs. [52] Some of these evolved into the modern galliformes, of which domesticated chickens are a main model. They are descended primarily from the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) and are scientifically classified as the same species. [53] As such, domesticated chickens can and do freely interbreed with populations of red junglefowl. [53] Subsequent hybridization of the domestic chicken with grey junglefowl, Sri Lankan junglefowl and green junglefowl occurred [54] a gene for yellow skin, for instance, was incorporated into domestic birds through hybridization with the grey junglefowl (G. sonneratii). [55] In a study published in 2020, it was found that chickens shared between 71% - 79% of their genome with red junglefowl, with the period of domestication dated to 8,000 years ago. [54]

The traditional view is that chickens were first domesticated for cockfighting in Asia, Africa, and Europe. [1] In the last decade, there have been a number of genetic studies to clarify the origins. According to one early study, a single domestication event of the red junglefowl in what now is the country of Thailand gave rise to the modern chicken with minor transitions separating the modern breeds. [56] The red junglefowl, known as the bamboo fowl in many Southeast Asian languages, is well adapted to take advantage of the vast quantities of seed produced during the end of the multi-decade bamboo seeding cycle, to boost its own reproduction. [57] In domesticating the chicken, humans took advantage of this predisposition for prolific reproduction of the red junglefowl when exposed to large amounts of food. [58]

Exactly when and where the chicken was domesticated remains a controversial issue. Genomic studies estimate that the chicken was domesticated 8,000 years ago in South East Asia and spread to China and India 2000–3000 years later. Archaeological evidence supports domestic chickens in Southeast Asia well before 6000 BC, China by 6000 BC and India by 2000 BC. [54] [59] [60] A landmark 2020 Nature study that fully sequenced 863 chickens across the world suggests that all domestic chickens originate from a single domestication event of red junglefowl whose present-day distribution is predominantly in southwestern China, northern Thailand and Myanmar. These domesticated chickens spread across Southeast and South Asia where they interbred with local wild species of junglefowl, forming genetically and geographically distinct groups. Analysis of the most popular commercial breed shows that the White Leghorn breed possesses a mosaic of divergent ancestries inherited from subspecies of red junglefowl. [61] [62] [63]

Middle Eastern chicken remains go back to a little earlier than 2000 BC in Syria chickens went southward only in the 1st millennium BC. They reached Egypt for purposes of cockfighting about 1400 BC, and became widely bred only in Ptolemaic Egypt (about 300 BC). [64] Phoenicians spread chickens along the Mediterranean coasts as far as Iberia. During the Hellenistic period (4th-2nd centuries BC), in the Southern Levant, chickens began to be widely domesticated for food. [2] This change occurred at least 100 years before domestication of chickens spread to Europe.

Chickens reached Europe circa 800 BC. [65] Breeding increased under the Roman Empire, and was reduced in the Middle Ages. [64] Genetic sequencing of chicken bones from archaeological sites in Europe revealed that in the High Middle Ages chickens became less aggressive and began to lay eggs earlier in the breeding season. [66]

Three possible routes of introduction into Africa around the early first millennium AD could have been through the Egyptian Nile Valley, the East Africa Roman-Greek or Indian trade, or from Carthage and the Berbers, across the Sahara. The earliest known remains are from Mali, Nubia, East Coast, and South Africa and date back to the middle of the first millennium AD. [64]

Domestic chicken in the Americas before Western contact is still an ongoing discussion, but blue-egged chickens, found only in the Americas and Asia, suggest an Asian origin for early American chickens. [64]

A lack of data from Thailand, Russia, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa makes it difficult to lay out a clear map of the spread of chickens in these areas better description and genetic analysis of local breeds threatened by extinction may also help with research into this area. [64]

South America

An unusual variety of chicken that has its origins in South America is the Araucana, bred in southern Chile by the Mapuche people. Araucanas lay blue-green eggs. Additionally, some Araucanas are tailless, and some have tufts of feathers around their ears. It has long been suggested that they pre-date the arrival of European chickens brought by the Spanish and are evidence of pre-Columbian trans-Pacific contacts between Asian or Pacific Oceanic peoples, particularly the Polynesians, and South America. In 2007, an international team of researchers reported the results of their analysis of chicken bones found on the Arauco Peninsula in south-central Chile. Radiocarbon dating suggested that the chickens were pre-Columbian, and DNA analysis showed that they were related to prehistoric populations of chickens in Polynesia. [67] These results appeared to confirm that the chickens came from Polynesia and that there were transpacific contacts between Polynesia and South America before Columbus's arrival in the Americas. [68] [69]

However, a later report looking at the same specimens concluded:

A published, apparently pre-Columbian, Chilean specimen and six pre-European Polynesian specimens also cluster with the same European/Indian subcontinental/Southeast Asian sequences, providing no support for a Polynesian introduction of chickens to South America. In contrast, sequences from two archaeological sites on Easter Island group with an uncommon haplogroup from Indonesia, Japan, and China and may represent a genetic signature of an early Polynesian dispersal. Modeling of the potential marine carbon contribution to the Chilean archaeological specimen casts further doubt on claims for pre-Columbian chickens, and definitive proof will require further analyses of ancient DNA sequences and radiocarbon and stable isotope data from archaeological excavations within both Chile and Polynesia. [70]

The debate for and against a Polynesian origin for South American chickens continued with this 2014 paper and subsequent responses in PNAS. [71]


More than 50 billion chickens are reared annually as a source of meat and eggs. [73] In the United States alone, more than 8 billion chickens are slaughtered each year for meat, [74] and more than 300 million chickens are reared for egg production. [75]

The vast majority of poultry are raised in factory farms. According to the Worldwatch Institute, 74 percent of the world's poultry meat and 68 percent of eggs are produced this way. [76] An alternative to intensive poultry farming is free-range farming.

Friction between these two main methods has led to long-term issues of ethical consumerism. Opponents of intensive farming argue that it harms the environment, creates human health risks and is inhumane. [77] Advocates of intensive farming say that their highly efficient systems save land and food resources owing to increased productivity, and that the animals are looked after in state-of-the-art environmentally controlled facilities. [78]

Reared for meat

Chickens farmed for meat are called broilers. Chickens will naturally live for six or more years, but broiler breeds typically take less than six weeks to reach slaughter size. [79] A free range or organic broiler will usually be slaughtered at about 14 weeks of age.

Reared for eggs

Chickens farmed primarily for eggs are called layer hens. In total, the UK alone consumes more than 34 million eggs per day. [80] Some hen breeds can produce over 300 eggs per year, with "the highest authenticated rate of egg laying being 371 eggs in 364 days". [81] After 12 months of laying, the commercial hen's egg-laying ability starts to decline to the point where the flock is commercially unviable. Hens, particularly from battery cage systems, are sometimes infirm or have lost a significant amount of their feathers, and their life expectancy has been reduced from around seven years to less than two years. [82] In the UK and Europe, laying hens are then slaughtered and used in processed foods or sold as "soup hens". [82] In some other countries, flocks are sometimes force moulted, rather than being slaughtered, to re-invigorate egg-laying. This involves complete withdrawal of food (and sometimes water) for 7–14 days [83] or sufficiently long to cause a body weight loss of 25 to 35%, [84] or up to 28 days under experimental conditions. [85] This stimulates the hen to lose her feathers, but also re-invigorates egg-production. Some flocks may be force-moulted several times. In 2003, more than 75% of all flocks were moulted in the US. [86]

As pets

Keeping chickens as pets became increasingly popular in the 2000s [87] among urban and suburban residents. [88] Many people obtain chickens for their egg production but often name them and treat them as any other pet like cats or dogs. Chickens provide companionship and have individual personalities. While many do not cuddle much, they will eat from one's hand, jump onto one's lap, respond to and follow their handlers, as well as show affection. [89] [90]

Chickens are social, inquisitive, intelligent [91] birds, and many find their behaviour entertaining. [92] Certain breeds, such as Silkies and many bantam varieties, are generally docile and are often recommended as good pets around children with disabilities. [93] Many people feed chickens in part with kitchen food scraps.


A cockfight is a contest held in a ring called a cockpit between two cocks known as gamecocks. This term, denoting a cock kept for game, sport, pastime or entertainment, appears in 1646, [94] after "cock of the game" used by George Wilson in the earliest known book on the secular sport, The Commendation of Cocks and Cock Fighting of 1607. Gamecocks are not typical farm chickens. The cocks are specially bred and trained for increased stamina and strength. The comb and wattle are removed from a young gamecock because, if left intact, they would be a disadvantage during a match. This process is called dubbing. Sometimes the cocks are given drugs to increase their stamina or thicken their blood, which increases their chances of winning. Cockfighting is considered a traditional sporting event by some, and an example of animal cruelty by others and is therefore outlawed in most countries. [95] Usually wagers are made on the outcome of the match, with the survivor or last bird standing declared winner.

Chickens were originally used for cockfighting, a sport where 2 male chickens or "cocks" fight each other until one dies or becomes badly injured. Cocks possess congenital aggression toward all other cocks to contest with females. Studies suggest that cockfights have existed even up to the Indus Valley Civilisation as a pastime. [96] Today it is commonly associated with religious worship, pastime, and gambling in Asian and some South American countries. While not all fights are to the death, most use metal spurs as a "weapon" attached above or below the chicken's own spur and with this typically results in death in one or both cocks. If chickens are in practice owners place gloves on the spurs to prevent injuries. Cockfighting has been banned in most western countries and debated by animal rights activist for its brutality.

Artificial incubation

Incubation can successfully occur artificially in machines that provide the correct, controlled environment for the developing chick. [97] [98] The average incubation period for chickens is 21 days but may depend on the temperature and humidity in the incubator. Temperature regulation is the most critical factor for a successful hatch. Variations of more than 1 °C (1.8 °F) from the optimum temperature of 37.5 °C (99.5 °F) will reduce hatch rates. Humidity is also important because the rate at which eggs lose water by evaporation depends on the ambient relative humidity. Evaporation can be assessed by candling, to view the size of the air sac, or by measuring weight loss. Relative humidity should be increased to around 70% in the last three days of incubation to keep the membrane around the hatching chick from drying out after the chick cracks the shell. Lower humidity is usual in the first 18 days to ensure adequate evaporation. The position of the eggs in the incubator can also influence hatch rates. For best results, eggs should be placed with the pointed ends down and turned regularly (at least three times per day) until one to three days before hatching. If the eggs aren't turned, the embryo inside may stick to the shell and may hatch with physical defects. Adequate ventilation is necessary to provide the embryo with oxygen. Older eggs require increased ventilation.

Many commercial incubators are industrial-sized with shelves holding tens of thousands of eggs at a time, with rotation of the eggs a fully automated process. Home incubators are boxes holding from 6 to 75 eggs they are usually electrically powered, but in the past some were heated with an oil or paraffin lamp.

Chickens are susceptible to several parasites, including lice, mites, ticks, fleas, and intestinal worms, as well as other diseases. Despite the name, they are not affected by chickenpox, which is generally restricted to humans. [99]

Chickens can carry and transmit salmonella in their dander and feces. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise against bringing them indoors or letting small children handle them. [100] [101]

Some of the diseases that can affect chickens are shown below:

Name Common name Cause
Aspergillosis Aspergillus fungi
Avian influenza bird flu virus
Histomoniasis blackhead disease Histomonas meleagridis
Botulism paralysis Clostridium botulinum toxin
Cage layer fatigue mineral deficiency, lack of physical exercise
Campylobacteriosis tissue injury in the gut
Coccidiosis Coccidia
Colds virus
Crop bound improper feeding
Dermanyssus gallinae red mite parasite
Egg binding oversized egg
Erysipelas Streptococcus bacteria
Fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome high-energy food
Fowl cholera Pasteurella multocida
Fowlpox Fowlpox virus
Fowl typhoid bacteria
Avian infectious laryngotracheitis LT Gallid alphaherpesvirus 1
Gapeworm Syngamus trachea worms
Infectious bronchitis Infectious bronchitis virus
Infectious bursal disease Gumboro infectious bursal disease virus
Infectious coryza in chickens Avibacterium paragallinarum
Lymphoid leukosis Avian sarcoma leukosis virus
Marek's disease Gallid alphaherpesvirus 2
Moniliasis yeast infection
or thrush
Candida fungi
Mycoplasma bacteria
Newcastle disease Avian avulavirus 1
Necrotic enteritis bacteria
Omphalitis Mushy chick disease [102] bacteria
Peritonitis [103] infection in abdomen from egg yolk
Psittacosis Chlamydia psittaci
Pullorum Salmonella bacteria
Scaly leg Knemidokoptes mutans
Squamous cell carcinoma cancer
Tibial dyschondroplasia speed growing
Toxoplasmosis Toxoplasma gondii
Ulcerative enteritis bacteria
Ulcerative pododermatitis bumblefoot bacteria

The first pictures of chickens in Europe are found on Corinthian pottery of the 7th century BC. [106] [107]

Chickens were spread by Polynesian seafarers and reached Easter Island in the 12th century AD, where they were the only domestic animal, with the possible exception of the Polynesian rat (Rattus exulans). They were housed in extremely solid chicken coops built from stone, which was first reported as such to Linton Palmer in 1868, who also "expressed his doubts about this". [108]

The idiom “running around like a chicken with its head cut off” is commonly used, alluding to the fact that the body of a chicken whose head has been cut off often frantically flounders about before succumbing to its fate. Well, not all chickens can relate. Mike, survived 18 headless months!

Miracle Mike

On September 10, 1945, farmer Lloyd Olsen chopped off 5 1⁄2-month-old Mike’s head with an ax in readiness for the cooking pot. Believe it or not, the headless rooster continued pecking for food around his Fruita, Colorado, farm!

Olsen decided to spare Mike and, over the next 18 months, they toured the country.

Dubbed “Miracle Mike,” sideshow promoter Hope Wade insured the bird for $10,000 and charged 25 cents for a peek.

But How Was Mike Surviving?

Although most of his head was in a jar, part of his brain stem and one ear remained. Since the majority of a chicken’s reflexes are controlled by the brain stem, Mike was able to function relatively normally.

It is estimated that up to 80% of his brain by mass remained untouched. Due to this, the fact that he was able to continue functioning is much easier to explain than the fact that he didn’t bleed to death…

The Accident

Unfortunately, after a year and a half in the limelight, Mike’s life came to an end.

Mike was fed grain and water dropped directly into his esophagus with an eyedropper, but a syringe was also needed to clear his throat.

On that fateful evening, Mike began choking and Lloyd could not find the syringe used to clear his throat. Before Lloyd could come up with an alternative, Miracle Mike suffocated.

History of Hens and Their Life Expectancy

Historically chickens were kept for the sake of their eggs, and when they stopped laying, for their meat. In recent history, have people kept hens as long-lasting buddies.

The forefathers of chickens were wild birds. Their life span was at finest a couple of years as the list of natural predators in the food chain is long.

In the 1800s, people started &lsquoplaying&rsquo with chickens to meet our needs as a food source (eggs & meat), which is when their life expectancy grew to what it is today&ndash upwards of 10 years.


The messages show a picture of Chicken (Rooster) without head, claiming that its name is Mike and has lived for 18 months after its head was cut off. The message is a fact.

Mike, the Headless Chicken lived for 18 Months Mike, the Headless Chicken lived for 18 Months

The story goes back to September 10, 1945, in Fruita, Colorado, USA, when a farmer named Lloyd Olsen tried to cut down a five and half months old cockerel named Mike for their supper. As he axed off the chicken’s head, he was surprised to see Mike get up and walk around erect. The headless chicken was able to balance itself on a perch and walked clumsily, trying to preen and crow as well, although it was less impressive. Olsen realized later that his axe missed the vital jugular vein that drains blood from the head, brain, face and neck, transmitting it to the heart, and left most of the brain stem and one ear intact. A blood clot in the vital nerve prevented Mike from bleeding to death.

Mike, the Headless Chicken lived for 18 Months Mike, the Headless Chicken lived for 18 Months

As Mike did not die, Olsen decided to take care of it and started feeding it a mixture of milk and water with the help of an eyedropper, also feeding small grains of corn sometimes. Since then Mike became a public figure with the slideshow of its headless pictures and a live celebrity, and earned fame worldwide, also featuring in Life and Time magazines. Initially people thought this story of headless chicken to be a hoax, but later, the owner of Mike took it to the University of Utah and established the facts. Mike, the chicken went on to live for 18 months without head, and earned up to US$4,500 per month during the height of its popularity.

Mike, the Headless Chicken lived for 18 Months Mike, the Headless Chicken lived for 18 Months

However, in March 1947, miracle Mike began to choke during midnight, and unable to find the feeding eyedropper, it finally succumbed to death at a motel in Arizona desert during one of its many public appearances as a headless celebrity chicken. Mike, the Headless Chicken has now become an institution in Fruita, Colorado, and starting from year 1999, the institution celebrates the third weekend of May as an annual “Mike the Headless Chicken Day”.

Miracle Mike: The headless chicken that lived for 18 months without a head

It’s a widely-known fact that a chicken can live for several minutes without a head.

The domesticated birds can survive because of their brain position, which is in a small space of the skull at a 45-degree angle. The cerebellum and the brain stem, which are responsible for most vital functions, are in the chicken’s neck, so when the head is severed, the body can go on for a short time. Most of the unlucky birds die moments after they lose their head, running around frantically before giving out. There is, however, one case of a chicken that lived for a year and a half without its head.

Mike the Headless Chicken. Photo Credit

Mike the Headless Chicken, also known as Miracle Mike, was a five-month-old male, who lived a happy life on a farm in Fruita, Colorado. On September 10, 1945, Lloyd Olsen — the owner of the farm — decided it was time for Mike to become a part of someone’s dinner, so he beheaded the animal.

Mike the Headless Chicken Photo Credit

The cockerel refused to die, though, and after a short run around, he settled down as if nothing had happened. Mike even (unsuccessfully) tried to peck for food, so the farmer decided to let the chicken be. The very next morning he found Mike sleeping, still alive, so Olsen decided to take care of the freaky miracle. He began feeding Mike with water, milk, and small pieces of corn. The farmer would deposit food directly into chicken’s throat, using a small eyedropper.

Mike the Headless Chicken
Photo Credit

Mike survived the beheading because the farmer’s hatchet missed his jugular vein, so the cockerel only lost his sight and a piece of his brain that wasn’t responsible for the vital functions of his body. Mike only became clumsier than he was when he had a head. Soon, the local newspaper wrote an article about the miraculous chicken, and Olsen received an offer to take the headless bird on a traveling sideshow across the United States. Their road adventure began, and Mike’s fame grew as they traveled between cities.

Mike the Headless Chicken. Photo Credit

People would pay to see the headless rooster, so at the peak of his fame, Mike earned his owner around $4,500 per month. The value of the chicken was estimated at $10,000. Mike frequently appeared in the news, including in Time and Life magazines. For 18 months the chicken traveled around the US, until his last trip to Phoenix, Arizona.

A whimsical metal sculpture next to the Aspen Street Coffee House in Fruita, Colorado. Photo Credit

Mike lived like a star and died as one too. On March 17, 1947, while Mike and his owner were spending the night in a Phoenix motel, the chicken choked on a kernel of corn. Olsen didn’t have the necessary equipment to save him, so Mike died, leaving his tour unfinished.

Olsen did not want to admit that Mike was dead, so he told the press that he’d sold the chicken. Miracle Mike remained famous, and residents of Fruita erected a statue in the town to commemorate him. There’s even an annual Headless Chicken festival organized every May, held in honor of the chicken that lived headless for 18 months.

ISA Brown: All You Need To Know

The ISA Brown, is a fairly recent introduction to the poultry world, and is a very popular girl. She can lay lots of beautiful eggs for you and has a great personality.
They are a medium sized, affectionate, docile hen which is suited to family living.
The usefulness of the breed cannot be denied – such a high egg output is hard to argue with when you compare to heritage chickens that are more modest in their output.
In today’s article we are going to discuss this breed in detail giving you some information on their history, appearance, temperament, egg laying ability and finally if the they are the right breed for your backyard flock.

History and Background

The ISA Brown is a fairly recently developed hybrid chicken designed by man to lay eggs.
Originally developed in France around 1978, the ISA stands for Institut de Sélection Animale. In 1997 the Institut was merged with Merck and Co and the breed then became the Hubbard ISA.
The company has since merged again multiple times and is now part of the Group Grimaud La Corbière SA.
Their exact genetic make-up is a closely guarded trade secret, but speculation has been pointed at the Rhode Island Red and white breeds with input from White Leghorns. What other breeds may be involved is a mystery.

Breed Standard and Appearance

As this is a hybrid there is no ‘standard of perfection’ in place from the American Poultry Association or any other Club or Association.
The hen is however, ‘copyrighted’. You cannot call your look-alike chickens ISA browns or sell them as such.
If you desire to show your ISA brown at the local poultry show, there is nothing to stop you from doing so, but it will not be accepted in the larger more prestigious shows.

At a quick glance, you could be forgiven for mistaking them for Rhode Island Reds. When you look more closely you will notice their red/brown is lighter in shade – more of a light chestnut brown.
The ISA brown is a medium sized bird with a rectangular body and a slight dip to the back. The tail is held upright, they occasionally have some white tail feathers.
The comb and wattles are red in color with the comb being single and upright. Eyes range from a yellow to a bay red color. They are classified as a small to medium hen weighing around 5lb.
As a hybrid bird, they will not breed true. Whatever you may get in the way of chicks is not likely to live up to its’ parents abilities.
It has also been noted that offspring are highly prone to suffer from kidney ailments, so they aren’t the healthiest of chicks. It is probably better to not try to breed them yourselves. ISAs’ come from a white rooster over a red hen therefore they are a ‘sex-link’ chicken meaning chicks at birth can be immediately sexed – white chicks are boys and tan chicks are girls.

ISA Brown Temperament and Disposition

The ISA brown is of a friendly, sweet and docile nature. They are a fairly quiet hen and so suit backyard living well.
They are known to be affectionate with their owners and enjoy being held and cuddled often jumping into your lap unannounced to enjoy some affection and treats.
ISAs stand confinement very well but enjoy foraging for bugs and other tasty morsels!

Egg Laying Ability

These hard working girls can lay in excess of 300 large brown eggs per year! They barely pause for the molt and get right back to it, making them one of the best breeds for egg laying around.
Since they work so hard using all the protein and calcium available in their small bodies, it is wise to feed them a slightly higher protein base (+18%) and make sure they have oyster shell available at all times (especially after the first molt).
They rarely go broody, they have been bred not to, but occasionally you will get a broody girl. They will sit well and they make great Moms.

Common Health Issues

ISA’s have been ‘engineered’ to lay eggs, and with that has come a profusion of ailments when they live to be over 2 years old.
A bird that can lay 300+ eggs each year without rest is not going to live into a healthy old age.
It is usual in the commercial world to cull chickens after their second year, as their egg production does drop noticeably here. It is at this point they are considered ‘spent’ and sent for slaughter. Thanks to the work of the British Hen Welfare Trust and other such organizations worldwide, many of these hens are rescued and go to live with ordinary people like us for the rest of their lives.
Although their ‘best’ laying years may be behind them, they will still lay eggs for you, just not as prolifically and they will bless you with their affection and presence.
When hens are bred to lay eggs in such huge quantities they will often suffer with reproductive tract issues such as prolapse, tumors and cancers. They can also suffer from kidney problems too.

Is It Right For You?

The ISA brown is a great ‘starter chicken’ as they are very low maintenance, so they are ideal for those just starting their chicken addiction!
They are suited to family life as they are affectionate and non-aggressive hens. They certainly love to be held, which makes them an ideal chicken for kids.
Their egg production is unmatched. They will lay you lots of eggs – perhaps too many if you are a small family, but then you can always give them away or perhaps sell your excess! They are winter hardy and tolerate heat fairly well, although shade and water should of course be provided. They can tolerate a wide variety of climates – ISAs’ are very popular in Australia and the US.
The ISA was bred to last for about two years, however in a good, caring environment they can live from 5-8 years.


They are most certainly a prolific layer of large brown eggs she is a ‘working girl’ par excellence!
As always, the high egg yield is detrimental to the long-term health of the hen. The ISA is one of several breeds developed for high egg yield at the expense of longevity and natural reproduction.
If you need a hen that will lay loads of eggs for your family I think the ISA brown would be eminently suitable for the job.
Do you keep ISAs? Let us know your experience with them in the comments section below…

Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act

The bald eagle is protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act even though it has been delisted under the Endangered Species Act. This law, originally passed in 1940, provides for the protection of the bald eagle and the golden eagle (as amended in 1962) by prohibiting the take, possession, sale, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, of any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or egg, unless allowed by permit(16 U.S.C. 668(a) 50 CFR 22). "Take" includes pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb (16 U.S.C. 668c 50 CFR 22.3). The 1972 amendments increased civil penalties for violating provisions of the Act to a maximum fine of $5,000 or one year imprisonment with $10,000 or not more than two years in prison for a second conviction. Felony convictions carry a maximum fine of $250,000 or two years of imprisonment. The fine doubles for an organization. Rewards are provided for information leading to arrest and conviction for violation of the Act.

Penalties associated with violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act

Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act the first criminal offense is a misdemeanor with maximum penalty of one year in prison and $100,000 fine for an individual ($200,000 for an organization). The second offense becomes a felony with maximum penalty of 2 years in prison and $250,000 fine for individual ($500,000 for an &ldquoorganization&rdquo such as a business). The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act also provides for maximum civil penalties of $5,000 for each violation.

Recent convictions under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act
A West Virginia man was convicted in federal court for killing a bald eagle and sentenced to serve six days in federal prison, 11 months and 26 days of home confinement, and five years supervised probation he must also forfeit the rifle used to kill the eagle and pay $3,301 in jail and court fees.

In September 2005, a Florida land development company responsible for the destruction of an eagle nest tree on property where it was building a housing development in Collier County, Florida, pleaded guilty to violating Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and was fined $356,125 &ndash one of the largest penalties ever assessed under this statute. An individual associated with the company also pleaded guilty to violating the BGEPA and was sentenced in April 2006 to a $5,000 fine and three years on probation.

In January 2005, two defendants who cut down a tree containing a bald eagle nest in Sarasota County, Florida, pleaded guilty to violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. One defendant was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and contribute $80,000 in restitution ($40,000 to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey and $40,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation&rsquos Florida Bald Eagle Conservation Fund). The other was fined $10,000 and ordered to forfeit the chainsaw used to commit the crime.

Girl born without a brain is now 6 years old, family seeks support

April Barrett’s daughter, Kaliysha, was born with hydranencephaly, a rare condition that left her without a brain. Despite doctor’s dismal expectations, Kaliysha is now 6 years old and has managed to survive with only a partially functioning brain stem.

According to Dr. Nicholas Bambakidis, director of cerebrovascular and skull base surgery at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, the brain stem controls certain key functions necessary to sustain life.

"The brain stem is a part of the nervous system that controls autonomic functioning like the trigger to breathe and maintain blood pressure and things like that," Bambakidis told FoxNews.com. "It’s possible to have those autonomic functions still active without having the cerebral cortex, the part that (Kaliysha) is missing, which controls the higher functioning things like personality, memory and speech working."

Barrett thinks it’s miraculous that her daughter has lived so long, according to Fox 59.

“My doctor told me a week before I delivered that she would be born without a brain, and he told me to go take a picture of my belly, that that would be the last time she would be alive,” Barrett told Fox 59. “I was devastated every time she kicked. It made me cry because I was like, this is the last time you’ll be alive?”

However, due to a recent illness that further damaged her brain stem, Kaliysha is now receiving hospice care.

“She’s a survivor, and she survived for me for a real long time,” Barrett told Fox 59.

Barrett has set up a fund called ‘Pace of Miracles’ to raise money for Kaliysha’s eventual funeral and burial. Those who want to help can donate at any Chase Bank location.

Hydranencephaly is a condition in which the brain’s cerebral hemispheres are replaced with sacs filled with cerebrospinal fluid.

TIL That in Colorado in 1945 a chicken called Mike lived for 2 years without a head and became a popular sideshow attraction

Big deal, we have politicians here that can speak without a head.

oh they have heads, they're just stuck up their asses.

They still have a festival for him every year.

how the hell did they feed it?

Eye droppers. He died from his airway not being cleared the night he, well died.

how did it know how to walk and stuff without a brain?

"The axe missed the jugular vein, leaving one ear and most of the brain stem intact."

Bonus fact, I think he died by choking on a kernel of corn that he was fed by the feeder. I might be thinking of a different eternal chicken, but oh well, the more you know :I

It must have hurt him so fucking much.

but.. how would he cross the road?

Holy crap, memories. This was one of the first things I saw on the internet. I don't mean that to be insulting, I just remember everyone in seventh grade telling me to go to http://www.miketheheadlesschicken.org because it had a song playing in the background. I just went back there for the first time in twelve years and it's completely different.

So it died because. someone•••• choked the chicken?

Read this as TIL in Colorado 45 children called Mike lived for 2 years without a head. I was severely confused for a second there.

I moved to Fruita when I was 14 and heard about Mike. I called bullshit. Yup, he's real lol. Like blue_oxen said, they still have the festival every year. Kind of a cool story.

Which went first. the Chicken or the Head?

One of the most disturbing Wiki articles I ever read. I don't understand why the man didn't finish the job after messing up. "Oh hey look he is still alive, lets see how long this lasts. He will die soon right?" is not what would go through my mind. "Holy fuck he is still alive, I am so sorry. Please don't be in pain any longer" would be my thought.

Watch the video: Rooster lived without a head for nearly two years. Home Boarding - Manipur (July 2022).


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