JMHO...but no. You do not have to have a red light.
I've used white many more times than I have red and I see no difference in their actions UNLESS there is pecking going on and drawing blood. Then with the red light I think it helps with the pecking issue.
I always start off with white.
I have only used a white light, because I didn't know about the red light to start out with. My chicks did peck each other's toes for a day or two, but they soon got over it and all has been well! If you don't have a red light, I wouldn't go run out and buy one unless there is to much toe violence!
Well I read that it is suppose to help them determine when it was time to sleep. Oh well, I guess if your sleepy enough you will sleep. I haven't had but a little pecking of the feet and that's only when one is on my hand and another tries to puul it off so that one can get in my hand, but thats about it. When it gets quiet in the house they are quiet and sleeping, so I don't guess it matters much.
Maybe certain breeds need the red light. Oh well, I have white and my extra money will go to the coop.
maybe i'll just give mine a few days before spending more money, DH says he's going to have fortune in my flock right now anyways, and darn if he didnt almost ban me from TSC knowing they're getting more chicks today, lol.
Usually, as long as you have enough space, uninjured chicks, and adequate heat, you shouldn't run into too many problems with excessive pecking. I think with the game type birds that can live wild, you run into more issues as they depend on natural light for survival and are driven to hunt (except the cornish cross, they are driven almost insane with hunger.)
If you find one at a garage sale or on sale, it can't hurt to pick it up as a back up but if you aren't having any issues with it, I wouldn't worry about it too much.