It's a clichè that is constantly repeated by the likes of Gordon Ramsey:

You are running around like headless chickens!

headless chicken


Also, for example, they do in South Park animations

Do headless chicken run around? After all, why wouldn't they collapse?

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Yes they do, or at least kind of do.

They move after decapitation in a kind of jumping-running-flapping motion, and can be seen in the videos getting out of containers, or traveling several dozen meters away.

Searching for "headless chickens run around" gives a bunch of YouTube videos. All depicting decapitated chickens running around, flapping their wings and jumping. Here are some examples:

Caution: NSFW. Contains graphic content.

  • I am completely nitpicking here, but those videos don't show chickens running by any measure. – Sklivvz Jan 15 '14 at 11:46
  • In the first and 3rd videos it's kind of running-jumping, but in all videos and other videos I didn't put the chickens move a considerable distance after decapitation. – SIMEL Jan 15 '14 at 12:05
  • 2
    Anecdote: When I was a kid we had chickens (and geese). I had to behead chickens once in a while, and yes, their legs and wings work furiously for maybe 15 seconds or so. – Mike Dunlavey Feb 19 '14 at 14:33
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    @MikeDunlavey same happens when chicken's neck is broken. I saw that once (on a big chicken). – Mauricio Arias Olave Aug 1 '17 at 13:27

Yes, they are running around, until they dead.

Here is a story of Mike. A chicken refused to dead after beheaded.

The chicken that lived for 18 months without a head

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.

enter image description here

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  • 3
    Mike is a famous story, but it is the story of what happens when a chicken doesn't die, when most of its head is chopped off. It isn't representative of the more typical behaviour that the expression is derived from. – Oddthinking Jul 26 '17 at 15:36

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protected by Sklivvz Feb 17 '14 at 18:19

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