How do chickens run with no head?

A chicken can run without its head because a neural network in its spine is pre-programmed to control the muscles in frequently-used movements such as running or swimming. (Photo: Eric Guinther) Why do headless chickens run? The brain does not control all body movements.

Without input from the brain these circuits start spontaneously. “The neurons become active, the legs start moving,” says Dr Tom Smulders of Newcastle University. Usually the chicken is lying down when this happens, but in rare cases, neurons will fire a motor programme of running.

Can a chicken survive without a head?

Part of the reason that a chicken can live without its head has to do with its skeletal anatomy, according to Dr. Wayne J. Kuenzel a poultry physiologist and neurobiologist at the University of Arkansas. The skull of a chicken contains two massive openings for the eyes that allow the brain to be shoved upwards into the skull at an angle of around 45 degrees.

The chicken that survived longest without its head was a plucky bird called Mike. He lived for 18 months after losing his head in the US from 1945 to 1947. Farmer Lloyd Olsen, of Colorado, was sent.

While most beheaded chickens only survive a few minutes after execution, there is a recorded case of a headless chicken surviving for 18 months after a botched beheading. This chicken was known as “Miracle” Mike, or Mike the Headless Chicken.

You may be thinking “How did Mike the chicken live without a head for 18 months?”

Seventy years ago, a farmer beheaded a chicken in Colorado, and it refused to die. Mike, as the bird became known, survived for 18 months and became famous. But how did he live without a head for so long, asks Chris Stokel-Walker. On 10 September 1945 Lloyd Olsen and his wife Clara were killing chickens, on their farm in Fruita, Colorado.

What happens when you cut off a chicken’s head?

This is called a “reflex action”. When you chop off a chicken’s head, the pressure of the axe triggers all the nerve endings in the neck, causing that little burst of electricity to run down all the nerves leading back to the muscles, to tell them to move. The chicken appears to flap its wings and to run around – even though it’s already dead.