China is burying chicks and other birds alive in a desperate measure to contain an outbreak of bird flu, according to shocking footage shared online.
More than 4,000 birds had already died, according to the reports.
H5N1 bird flu infection in humans has a mortality rate of about 60% but does not spread from person-to-person and is usually caught by farmers, according to the World Health Organisation.
This footage allegedly shows newly-hatched chicks being emptied into a deep pit in an attempt to stop the virus spreading.
The tiny birds can be heard cheeping in panic as they are tipped backwards from a truck and slide into a freshly-dug hole about 10ft deep.
Many of the young birds fall off the truck and a worker is seen to kick some escaped chicks into the pit.
In a second video, hundreds of geese are seen honking from inside a hole in the earth, while a digger's claw moves as if to bury them alive under the earth.
It is not clear exactly where the footage was taken, but the clips were shared to Twitter by Harry Chen who accompanied them with a caption urging China to "clean up their act".
The videos have since been seen more than 29,000 and 69,000 times respectively.
Many viewers were horrified and branded the treatment of the animals as “inhumane”, but others said it was a practical way to halt the spread of the deadly disease.
One person wrote: “People would rather cry about a bunch of dumb animals than contain an outbreak.”
“I know it has to be done but is there a more humane way to do it?” asked another viewer.
A third commentator said: “Horrific... China one of the most inhumane nations on Earth at this stage..”
Meanwhile, someone else countered that the cruelty was “the same around the world”.
In the UK, the male chicks of hens bred for egg-laying are routinely culled – because it is not economical to raise them for meat.
This is done by either suffocation or grinding chicks in a macerator in a process known as “Instantaneous Mechanical Destruction” which is quick and painless, according to the Humane Slaughter Association.