Children have been removed from an orthodox Mennonite community in Canada where adults have been charged with assaulting youngsters using items such as cattle prods and leather straps.

Manitoba Family Services would not say Wednesday how many children had been taken into care and would not reveal any other details about the case. The department says child protection professionals are working with the families as police investigate.

Few in the close-knit community are saying anything, but one man driving a horse-drawn buggy told a local television station that 42 children were taken and he was "very distressed."

Four adults have been charged in recent weeks with assault on several boys and girls between July 2011 and January of this year.