• Ducklings waiting to be culled in China.

Ducklings waiting to be culled in China. (Photo : Getty Images)

Chinese people are being branded as 'barbaric' by animal activists after photos taken by journalist Li Gen showed tens of thousands of male ducklings being scalded to death in Tongqiao village in Xidu, in southern China's Hunan Province.

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Other comments say that the only males who could live safely in China are the men.

The process starts with farm workers sorting the female ducklings and the male ones into separate groups. The female ducklings will be sold, but the male ones have to be discarded.

The male ducklings are then put into a net and submerged in 80 degree Celsius water before being thrown into a spinning machine to have their feather removed.

Usually, no more than four days old, the male ducklings are being culled because they can't lay eggs and are deemed useless to the commercial egg industry and it will cost the hatchery too much money to raise them.

It is more economical to scald the ducklings to death instead of burying them alive.

The duckling meat will be either sold as snake food to breeders or to street vendors to make barbecue.

The animal activists, however, noted that such practice is not unique to China as billions of day-old male chicks are gassed or grounded alive yearly by hatcheries worldwide in what is known as "chick shredding."

The website metro.co noted that the same situation happens daily in British farms, where thousands of male baby chicks are suffocated and gassed to death.

This is done for the same reason that the Chinese cull ducklings--that they don't grow up into egg-laying chickens and also not suitable to be a meat source.

On the other hand, Peter J. Li, the China specialist from Humane Society International, pointed out that the difference is that, in China culling is being done in public places where there are young children, while in the West, culling is mechanized and done behind high walls.

While some countries like Germany are taking steps to eliminate chick shredding, this is still being widely practiced.