Life at Bhaktivedanta Hare Krishna Manor revolves around the cows.

The bovine beasts are not only unforgettable due to their size, but are also remarkable because the farm, and indeed the manor, is completely dependent on them.

The farm at the manor, home of the UK's Hare Krishna movement, in Letchmore Heath, is one of only a few in the country that keeps cows and bulls for life. However, it is the only farm that is also completely dependant on animals for power.

Whether it is ploughing and cultivating the fields, planting potatoes or generating power in the barns, the farm relies totally on the huge oxen, which each weigh well over a tonne, to pull the machinery.

"Our whole day revolves around getting the bulls out into the fields", Shyamasundara das, or "Shyam", farm manager at Bhaktivedanta said.

"So if a bull gets sick, we are in trouble. But once they are born here, they pass away here. We start working them when they are three, and then work them until 13, 14 or 15 years old when we retire them."

Shyam is currently waiting on a decision from Hertsmere Borough Council on plans to move the herd of more than 40 cows and bulls out of their existing timber accommodation and into new buildings.

Despite a council officer's recommendation to approve the construction of new barns, a milking parlour and dairy in an adjacent field, the decision was deferred by Bushey and Aldenham Planning Committee earlier this month.

Nevertheless, the five workers at the farm are currently in the process collecting 15 tonnes of potatoes from the fields - enough to supply the manor with potatoes for an entire year.

The farm also produces cabbages, spinach, pumpkins and other vegetables, while the cows are manually milked twice a day and currently provide around 40,000 litres, or 80,000 pints, of milk a year.