Merial Animal Health has strengthened its Avian Team in the UK and Europe. The company, which produces products such as the VAXXITEK®HVT + IBD vaccine against Marek’s Disease and Gumboro, has announced the promotion of team members Helen Houghton and Gavin Kelly, and the addition of a new Poultry Specialist, John Underwood.

Helen Houghton, who has been Merial’s Avian Manager for the UK and Ireland since 2009 has been promoted to Head of Avian (Key Accounts and Marketing) for European Mature Markets. Gavin Kelly takes her place as Avian Manager for the UK and Ireland. John Underwood will work alongside the company’s other Poultry Specialist, Andrew Pearson.

Helen says, “While my new role will involve working closely with the different Merial Avian Business Units in Europe and their customers, I will continue to support key accounts in the UK.
“I am delighted that Gavin will be heading up the team in the UK and Ireland. He is well known to producers and vets in this market, and has excellent technical knowledge and expertise.

“John further strengthens our team and has particularly strong credentials from his time spent in broiler production.”

Merial’s Avian Team in the UK and Ireland further benefits from support from its Global and European team. Global Veterinary Technical Services Director Francesco Prandini is a well-known expert in poultry diseases who speaks at events across the world, as well as providing support on the ground to vets and producers. The company’s VTS team of Ludovic Porcher and Olivier Menuet, also makes regular visits to sites in the UK to help with installation, trouble-shooting and training for Merial’s range of application equipment. 


Helen Houghton worked in a mixed vet practice after graduating from the Royal Veterinary College in 1996.She moved to Hoechst Roussel Vet (later to become Intervet) before joining Merial Animal Health in 2005 and has specialised in avian health since 2006. She was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship in 2010.

Gavin Kelly began his career as a Veterinary Laboratory Technician with Sun Valley Poultry before moving to Bayer Animal Health as Poultry Specialist, later becoming Business Manager. He joined Merial Animal Health in 2008.

Andrew Pearson worked as a hatchery manager in the 1970s before moving into vaccine sales and feed additive sales for Mycofarm and Hoechst Roussel Vet (Intervet). He joined Merial in 1999.

John Underwood joined Merial Animal Health last year from poultry heating specialist Spaceray. Prior to that he spent 18 years working on broiler breeders with HM Venn and Premier Poultry, before joining Grampian and then Vion as Production and Operations Manager on broilers.

Gavin Kelly says, “Merial’s team in the UK provides an excellent balance between technical expertise and practical, hands-on experience of the industry. The fact that we are able to call on the knowledge and skills of our colleagues in Europe and across the world, further enhances our ability to meet the needs of our customers.”