This Month is Chicken Month!
September is the national chicken month and here are 20 facts and one crazy story all about chickens!
1. Chicken are pretty fast. The chicken can travel up to 9 miles per hour when it wants to.
2. The largest ever recorded chicken egg weighed nearly 12 ounces, and measured 12.25 inches around.
3. Chicken language has real meanings. The birds give different alarm calls depending on which type of predator is threatening them.
4. There are more chickens on Earth than there are humans.
5. Chickens can cross breed with turkeys. The result is called a 'Turkin'.
6. There are four cities in the United States that have the word "chicken" in their name: Chicken, Alaska; Chicken Bristle, Illinois; Chicken Bristle, Kentucky; and Chicken Town, Pennsylvania
7. The greatest number of yolks ever found in a single chicken egg was nine!
8. Chickens experience REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. (I wonder what they dream about?)
9. The chicken is the closest living relative of the tyrannosaurus-rex.
10. In Gainesville, Georgia, (the chicken capital of the world), a local ordinance makes it illegal to eat your chicken with a fork.
11. The waste produced by one chicken in its lifetime can supply enough electricity to run a 100 watt bulb for five hours.
12. China has the most people in the world, *and* also has the most chickens. There are over3,000,000,000 chickens in China! (The United States has only 450 million.)
13. The longest recorded distance flown by any chicken was 301.5 feet.
14. The record for laying the most eggs in one day was seven.
15. There are more chickens in the world than there are of any other domesticated bird. In fact, there's more than one chicken for every human on the face of this earth.
16. Chickens can fly, but not for long. The longest recorded flight of a chicken is only thirteen seconds.
17. A chicken will lay bigger and stronger eggs if you adjust the lighting in their cages to make them think each day is 28 hours long, instead of 24.
18. Chickens eggs come in colors sometimes, (other than white and brown). Some breeds lay eggs in shades of blue or green. Ready-made Easter Eggs!
19. The fear of chickens is called 'Alektorophobia'.
20. Laid head to claw, all the chickens consumed from KFC worldwide would circle the Earth at the equator 11 times.
Have you ever heard the expression, "Running around like a chicken with its head cut off"? Check out this crazy story:
This is the story about Mike the chicken. Mike, of course, was not your ordinary chicken. No, not ordinary at all. You see, Mike was a headless chicken. If you want to be really specific, Mike was actually a headless Wyandotte rooster.
I should point out that Mike wasn't always a headless bird. In fact, he was born 100% normal, complete with a head (most normal chickens have one of these) in Fruita, Colorado.
On September 10, 1945, Mike's short five-and-a-half month life was about to take a turn for the worse. On this day, Mike received a death sentence. His owners, Lloyd and Clara Olsen, decided that it was time to slaughter a group of birds, some to sell and to prepare others for themselves. Out to the hen house they went…
Watch out Mike!
As you can probably imagine, Mr. Olsen was the one whacking the heads off while Clara plucked and cleaned the birds.
Bash! Down came the ax and off went Mike's head.
Mike's head was surely dead. Mike's body was not.
Now I know what you are thinking - it is well known that chickens will run around frantically when their heads are chopped off. That's probably where that old expression comes from. And, everyone knows that a headless chicken just can't survive more than a few moments:
Apparently, Mike forgot to read the rulebook for playing the game of Life. His head may have been lying on the floor, but he had no problem standing up and strutting around as if nothing had actually happened.The next day, Mike was still flopping around, so Lloyd decided to feed him to see how long he could keep the bird alive. Day after day he continued to gain weight.
Mike could easily balance himself on the highest perches without falling. His crowing consisted of a gurgling sound made in his throat. Mike even attempted to preen his feathers with his nonexistent head (apparently he never noticed). It seems that Mike could do just about anything that any other chicken could do, if you exclude all of the functions of his head.
As I'm sure you can imagine, headless chickens are not an everyday event. In the tradition of that famous huckster Barnum, there was money to be made in this oddity. A promoter by the name of Hope Wade came along and convinced Lloyd that Mike would be a big draw in the sideshow circuit. Miracle Mike, as he soon came to be known, toured up and down the West Coast of the United States. Just six weeks after his beheading, Mike was featured in a Life magazine article and his fame grew. For just 25 cents, anyone could pay to get a look at Mike. At the height of his popularity, Mike was raking in a cool $4,500 per month, which was no small potatoes in those days. They probably would have thrown in his head as a bonus - it was stored in a canning jar and toured along with Mike. (Actually, a cat ate Mike’s head. Some other poor chicken’s head was pickled in the jar.)
And, if there was money to be made, there were also copycats. Other people in Mike's hometown began to chop the heads off of their own chickens in an attempt to get in on the scheme. One copycat headless rooster was named Lucky and he managed to live for eleven days before bashing himself into a stovepipe and dying (Lucky wasn't that lucky after all). Several other headless chickens lived for a couple of days.
So how was Mike able to survive? Scientists examined him and determined that Mr. Olsen had not done a very good job at chopping Mike's head off. Most of the head was actually removed, but one ear remained intact. The slice actually missed the jugular vein and a clot prevented him from bleeding to death. Apparently, most of a chicken's reflex actions are located in the brain stem, which was also largely untouched. Mike was also examined by the officers of several humane societies and was declared to have been free from suffering.
Through his open esophagus, Mike was fed a mixture of ground up grain and water with your typical eyedropper. Little bits of gravel were dropped down his throat to help his gizzard grind up the food.
One serious problem that Mike commonly experienced was that he would start to choke on his own mucus. The Olsens came up with the simple solution of using a syringe to suck the mucus out. But, one day tragedy struck. Mike was traveling back home to Fruita and was roosting with the Olsens in their Phoenix motel room. They heard Mike choking in the middle of the night and quickly realized that they had left the syringe at the sideshow the day before. Miracle Mike was no more.
The exact date of Mike’s belated departure from this world was never recorded. Years later, it was estimated, based on Lloyd’s information, that Miracle Mike died in March of 1947. Eighteen months living without a head could be considered a world’s record. Yet, Lloyd didn’t want to admit that he had accidentally killed the bird, so he claimed that he had sold the bird off. This little white lie is the reason that many of the stories printed about Mike claimed that he was still touring the country as late as 1949.
But wait, the story is not over! Mike actually has his own holiday! On May 17, 1999, Mike's hometown of Fruita held the first "Mike the Headless Chicken Day" in honor of one of its most famous citizens. Some of the events included the 5K Run Like a Headless Chicken Race, egg tosses, Pin the Head on the Chicken, the Chicken Cluck-Off, and the classic Chicken Dance. The food offerings included - you guessed it - chicken, chicken salad, and the like. Let's not forget the great game of Chicken Bingo in which the numbers were chosen by where chicken droppings fell on a numbered grid.