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In the chainspec.json file for a custom chain, there is this value:

"homesteadTransition": "0x30d40",

Do I need that if I'm running on a private blockchain?

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If you want to be using the most up-to-date codepaths - e.g. those that don't make your chain function like it's currently still in the old Frontier phase - then you can set this value to 0.

The only really relevant piece of code is found here, in ethash.rs. You may want to consider how you'd like your chain to function with regards to the EIP transitions as well, and configure the chain spec file accordingly.

            block_number >= self.ethash_params.eip160_transition,
            block_number >= self.ethash_params.eip161abc_transition,
            block_number >= self.ethash_params.eip161d_transition,
            block_number >= self.params.eip86_transition

(I'm suspecting you'll want the code associated with these to be active, in which case you can set these values to 0 as well.)

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